Cities Salivating Over Amazon’s Second HQ


Since its launch back in 1994, Amazon.com has become the world’s largest online retailer. Just about everyone is familiar with Amazon and the staggering range of products it has available. So it’s hardly a surprise that when the company announced plans to build a second headquarters alongside its established Seattle campus, a vicious bidding war began.

Amazon announced in September that it was seeking a North American city in which to build a planned $5 billion second headquarters, which the company has been referring to as “HQ2”. The new headquarters would create over 50,000 high-paying jobs (Amazon estimates the average wage at HQ2 to be around $100,000 annually), mostly in software development, with an eye towards recruiting recent college and university graduates, as well as educated candidates with tech backgrounds.

The expansion would develop into a spectacular hub for any developing city. Amazon’s current Seattle headquarters currently employs more than 40,000 people, has created 53,000 jobs and is responsible for pumping $38 billion into the local economy. Although there are obvious upsides to becoming home the online retail giant’s second headquarters, there are also some negatives that would make many cities reluctant to submit a serious bid for HQ2.

For one, housing costs in Seattle have skyrocketed over the past several years, prompting a number of residents to leave the city. (Business Insider reports that in 2016, an apartment in downtown Seattle cost $42.08 per square foot to rent, compared with $39.79 in 2015 and $31.38 in 2009.) Home prices rose 11.2% in the last year alone. Add to that a brutal spike in traffic – Seattle is ranked as one of the 10 worst places in the US for traffic congestion – and the downside to having your city become Amazon’s new second home becomes a little clearer.

There’s also the question of whether Amazon even needs a second headquarters. With the primary HQ performing at its full potential, a second campus may seem ambitious. Unlike other companies with multiple international head offices, Amazon’s planned second HQ would have the same functionalities as the existing Seattle head office. It makes Amazon the first company to attempt to build a second headquarters that essentially mirrors its original one. And with the Seattle campus already doing well, building another headquarters may be just what the company needs to take its empire to the next level.

Many cities are bidding to become Amazon’s new second home. Many Canadian cities, like Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver are placing bids. It’s a prime opportunity for any of those cities to further establish their economies. With over 60 Fortune 500 companies already located in Toronto, for example, adding Amazon’s HQ2 to that roster would be a major achievement.

With a company centered on e-commerce, a second HQ outside of the digital sphere only makes sense. Amazon has made a name for itself by providing customers around the globe with products in a timely and efficient manner. Another headquarters to overlook this operation may be ambitious, but it also may be a step in the right direction for a big company looking to expand even further.

Tasnia Nasar | The Edge Blog


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