With its announcement Thursday, Amazon set off a insane corporate-Olympics contest - and one big thought experiment on the future of some American cities.
"We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options", reads the proposal. Over the past two decades, as Amazon has exponentially expanded its ecommerce and distribution tentacles and raced to the top echelon of Fortune 500 giants, Seattle has morphed into its company town.
The day after news broke that the e-commerce giant Amazon was looking for a city to house its second headquarters, an Austin city council member wants to go after the opportunity. Mayor Frank Jackson is in the midst of trying to win reelection, with the mayoral primary on Tuesday. And it's going to make that selection process a public one, akin to how cities bid to host an Olympic Games. Amazon may be looking for a spot where it's not as expensive for its employees to live, said Rita McGrath, a professor at the Columbia Business School in NY. It includes everything from how quickly Amazon employees could commute in the morning to the type of culture the company wants in the area.
Toronto, where it is easier to hire foreign workers than in the United States, could be a top contender for Amazon's new headquarters, according to Boyd.
Amazon has been awarded 70 state and local subsidies, totaling at least $732.79 million in value since 2000, according to nonprofit Good Jobs First, which advocates for transparency on government subsidies.
The company, which has more than 380,000 employees worldwide, said it would add as many as 50,000 jobs for the new headquarters.
And, lest we forget, are your city fathers prepared to fork over a king's ransom in financial incentives and other inducements?
Kolko also said an East Coast locale could bring it closer to the company's offices in Europe. We've got great institutions of higher education.
Amazon.com launched a nationwide search Thursday for a place to plant a second headquarters, and its ideal spot sounds a lot like the Bay Area: a metropolitan region with plenty of public transit, an worldwide airport, good universities and strong allure for technical talent. The region still has scar tissue from the surprise headquarters move of Boeing, the iconic Seattle corporation of the 20th century.
The U.S. Census estimated Fresno's population at 522,053 as of July 1 of a year ago, but it's not clear if populations of Clovis and other, nearby communities might be considered in Amazon's consideration process.
Pundits from around the country were quick to jump on Amazon's plan for a second headquarters outside Seattle with interpretations or suggestions.
Amazon opened bidding Thursday on its "HQ2". It's not so much the jobs as becoming a focal point for growth. Wisconsin's legislature recently voted to give Taiwanese manufacturer a $3-billion incentive package to build a $10-billion liquid crystal display factory in the state, for example. It's inciting competition to drive down its costs, passing the savings to its customers-perhaps at the expense of local taxpayers.
Cities are no doubt clamoring right this very month, making phone calls, asking various executives for meetings, pulling strings they can muster - just to get in Amazon's good graces.
Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle.