Monday, 16 September, 2019

Alabama "out" of Amazon second headquarters consideration

Russell Knight | 20 January, 2018, 18:16

Amazon's second home could be in an already tech-heavy city, such as Boston, New York or Austin, Texas. Or the company could go outside the US altogether and set up shop in Toronto.

No city in the Portland region made the top 20 list for Amazon's new headquarters that was released Thursday. It received 238 proposals, many with financial incentives.

Amazon, based in Seattle, plans to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters and could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses. Many cities drew up elaborate presentations that included rich financial incentives.

The list reveals little in terms of geographic preferences, with finalists on both coasts and the heartland.

Cities are in fierce competition to lure Amazon, which has revolutionized the way people shop. The state's two big cities also submitted their own bids for the headquarters. "It really reflects winner-take-all urbanism". San Diego also failed to advance. "Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough - all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity", said Holly Sullivan for Amazon Public Policy.

Amazon officials say they expect to make a decision sometime this year. In the South, Miami and Atlanta are being considered.

Other cities as far north as Boston, Massachusetts, and Toronto, Canada, are under consideration.

"It's a long list for a shortlist", said Jed Kolko, chief economist at job site Indeed.

Kucharski and Hurlburt say, overall, the joint effort led to understanding how the two largest communities in Western NY can work together to promote the region to future suitors and top-tier talent throughout the world.

KARE 11 reached out to Target and Amazon for comment. Some pulled off stunts to stand out, such as NY, which lit the Empire State Building in Amazon orange.

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Alabama did not make the list. Neither did Birmingham, Alabama, which installed giant replicas of Amazon's Dash buttons.

Amazon said it wanted to be in a metropolitan area of at least 1 million people, with a strong higher education system, access to a tech-savvy workforce and proximity to mass transit and a major worldwide airport. It also clarified in its release that this will definitely be a true second headquarters, rather than simply a sizeable satellite office, and will include $5 billion in investment from Amazon, with the potential to support as many as 50,000 "high-paying" jobs.

But it also wanted tax breaks and grants for being based in that location.

New Jersey has offered Amazon $7 billion in tax reductions if Newark is chosen as the future site for "HQ2". The state also offered to create a fund operated by a public board that would invest in Amazon securities and fund local infrastructure projects as determined by the board and another program to provide refundable tax credits to offset the tax costs of bringing offshore funds back to the US and invest them in Missouri.

But numerous state and local governments competing for the headquarters have refused to disclose the financial incentives they offered.

Chicago said releasing such information "could give an advantage to another applicant".

The race for Amazon is over, at least for the Twin Cities.

Several said they don't want their competitors to know what they're offering, a stance that open-government advocates criticized.

Amazon's newest headquarters will not be in the Elm City - or any CT city for that matter. Some of that growth came from Amazon's almost $14 billion acquisition a year ago of the Whole Foods grocery chain and its 89,000 employees.

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