Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced Thursday morning that the company plans to open a second North American headquarters at a cost of more than $5 billion in physical construction with the intention of creating up to 50,000 high-paying jobs. No location has been announced, but there is sure to be a horse race for the privilege of becoming Amazon’s second home.
Amazon emphasizes that the planned development is a “complete headquarters for Amazon — not a satellite office.” Executives and other employees (about 40,000) at the current Seattle headquarters could choose to move to the new campus or stay where they are.
The company said it is opening a request for proposal (RFP) and the company has published the RFP form on its website. Among Amazon’s stated preferences: a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people; a stable, business-friendly environment; urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent; communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
Housing may be one big issue in the selection of a second headquarters city. Home prices have risen faster in Seattle than in nearly any other U.S. city. The Case-Shiller national home price index score for Seattle at the end of June was 229.68, compared with a national average of 192.17. Since the end of the recession in 2009, the national average has gained about 40 points while Seattle’s index has added 80 points.
Which cities may be in the running? According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates of 2016 population, there are 53 U.S. metro areas with populations greater than 1 million. The largest is New York City with approximately 20 million and the smallest is Tucson with 1.02 million. Canada has six cities with populations greater than 1 million: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton.
In its RFP, Amazon asks bidders to supply a wide variety of information about such things as proximity to an international airport, building sites near major highways and access to public transportation, among others. The most interesting is a request for a “summary of total incentives” that the bidder plans to offer:
In this summary, please provide a brief description of the incentive item, the timing of incentive payment/realization, and a calculation of the incentive amount. Please describe any specific or unique eligibility requirements mandated by each incentive item. With respect to tax credits, please indicate whether credits are refundable, transferable, or may be carried forward for a specific period of time. If the incentive includes free or reduced land costs, include the mechanism and approvals that will be required. Please also include all timelines associated with the approvals of each incentive. We acknowledge a Project of this magnitude may require special incentive legislation in order for the state/province to achieve a competitive incentive proposal. As such, please indicate if any incentives or programs will require legislation or other approval methods. Ideally, your submittal includes a total value of incentives, including the specified benefit time period.
There are, of course, other considerations, such as capital and operating costs, the availability of a high-quality labor force and quality of life issues.
Proposals are due by October 19 and the company’s timeline indicates final selection and an announcement in 2018. “Let the wild rumpus start.”