By Ryan Velez
With many conventional retail giants failing, online retailers like Amazon are coming out as major winners in business, so when Amazon announced as a surprise that it was looking to put together a second corporate headquarters in North America, cities are practically stumbling over each other to get a chance at the potential $38 billion in economic growth potential. CBS News reports that while the final decision is up in the air, we have some clues from Amazon that can help narrow down what the options are.
For one, when it comes to Amazon’s HQ2, as they call it, they are looking for something similar to what they currently have in Seattle, urban or suburban, well connected to transit and in a metro area with at least 1 million people. However, they are going through a public process, meaning that they will be looking at bids far and wide, with tax breaks from local governments potentially swaying their choice.
"It's unusual to go through a [request for proposal] process, essentially shopping for a new location before any vetting is done on their own for a new location," said Dennis Donovan, president of WDG Consulting, a location search company. Aside from Seattle itself and cities in Puerto Rico, there are 53 metro areas over 1 million people, but chances are something much bigger will be needed to support Amazon.
"Amazon is so large that it itself is a place-maker and a place-changer," said Susan Wachter, co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania. "It cannot put itself down in the middle of nowhere because it would overwhelm whatever was there." However, while size and transit matter, we can’t forget the fact that a company like Amazon needs a city with a lot of talent to draw from.
"Amazon is a prototypical innovation economy company. It relies on a lot of workers with a lot of technical training," said Joseph Parilla, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy program at the Brookings Institute. "We're looking at a combination of factors that might make an attractive labor market, like the quantity and quality of the college-educated force." With 50,000 jobs at six figure salaries planned to open up, this makes a lot of sense. As of right now, 26 metro areas fit the bill of over 33% of the population with a college degree. A full list is available in the source article.