Just days after we reported that in the mad dash by virtually every American city to become Amazon's second headquarters, in which some such as New Jersey offered as much as $7 billion in state and city tax credits, today Amazon announced that that it has received 238 proposals from "cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories around North America" who want to host the company's second headquarters, also known as HQ2.
As CNBC reports, bids for the new headquarters were due to Amazon on Thursday, Oct. 19. Cities big and small from across over America, from Newark to Boston and hundreds inbetween are trying to impress Amazon and the more than $5 billion it plans to spend on its second headquarters. One Georgia town's mayor went so far as promising he would rename the town "Amazon" if the company agreed to build there.
Amazon didn’t name any of the bidders or say when it would come up with a short list for its potential picks. Cities including New York, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville and Austin, Texas, have said they applied for the new corporate site, which is expected to generate 50,000 high-paying jobs over nearly 20 years.
As noted previously, Amazon had very specific requirements for cities that are interested in placing a bid: it wants a city with an established mass transit system, easy access to international airports, availability of software developers and other tech talent, cultural fit and the ability to move into a phase-one site as early as 2019. Other items on its wish list: a metro area of more than one million people and tax incentives.
Still, as the WSJ adds, it is unclear where Amazon might land. “I don’t think any one market fits everything. It’s going to be a balancing act of the various attributes,” says Dave Bragg, a managing director at Green Street Advisors, which conducts real-estate research.
Amazon has increased its workforce from a few thousand to more than 40,000 over the past decade. And it is still planning to add 2 million square feet and 6,000 people in the next 12 months.
But to keep growing, the company needs more space. Amazon has said that it will give its team leaders a choice between staying in Seattle, relocating or being based out of both. It has said that the average pay for the new jobs will be around $100,000, depending on where it locates.
Recently Bloomberg laid out some of the cities that have a good shot at hosting HQ2:
Atlanta: The southern U.S. city, home of Amazon delivery partner United Parcel Service Inc., is a major flight hub, and the greater metro area houses a dynamic population of almost 6 million, as well as the headquarters of major corporations like Coca-Cola Co. and Home Depot Inc. Still, Atlanta is a relatively suburban city, compared with the urban HQ1 of Seattle.
Boston: Several Amazon executives have already advocated putting HQ2 in Boston, due to its proximity to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an airport with nonstop flights to Seattle and Washington D.C.; and a lower cost of living than some other large urban areas. Amazon has ties with Boston already, having purchased local robot maker Kiva Systems Inc. for $775 million in 2012. The city also won General Electric Co.’s 2015 new headquarters bid, and has provided more than $100 million in grants, property tax relief and programs for GE – though the city has said it won’t negotiate any incentives with Amazon until Boston makes it past the first round of the selection process.
Chicago: The Windy City ranks second in Anderson Economic Group’s analysis of 35 cities competing for the precious HQ2, focusing on its talent, diverse ecosystem and access to transportation in its bid. Just last month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner reauthorized the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax-credit program, which provides special tax incentives to companies relocating to Illinois or expanding operations in the state when another state is actively competing, according to BNA. One issue? The city isn’t known as a center of technology.
Denver: Denver has a busy international airport and is surrounded by a highly educated workforce. It’s also home to a surge of millennials looking for high-tech and energy jobs in Colorado, and boasts an outdoorsy lifestyle that’s an easy fit for Amazon’s quality-of-life considerations. Colorado has also chosen eight sites that meet Amazon’s requirements for HQ2. Still, other cities are offering larger tax breaks than Denver.
Detroit: Detroit offers low rent and the potential for larger tax breaks, because the city and the state of Michigan are still trying to turn themselves around and diversify from manufacturing. Michigan is also home to three big universities that produce a broad pool of talent. According to Michigan State University, 70 percent of its engineering graduates remained in the state. Even so, Governor Rick Snyder has said he will not ask the state legislature to approve additional incentives just for Amazon, according to Crain's Detroit Business. The city’s mass transit system also isn’t on par with some other cities in the running, and Detroit has a smaller tech scene.
New York: In its bid for HQ2, the Big Apple is pitching its diverse workforce, robust university ecosystem and access to advertising, fashion and other industries. Brooklyn is emerging as an attractive component of the bid, with its building boom and throngs of young residents. New York is so serious about HQ2 that Mayor Bill de Blasio had landmarks around the city, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade, lit up in "Amazon orange" on Wednesday night. (Neighboring Newark, New Jersey, is also jumping in to bid, offering practically the same workforce with $7 billion in potential tax credits.) The bid by the biggest U.S. city may be at a disadvantage because of limited space for construction and already-high housing costs.
Amazon is expected to reveal the home of its new headquarters some time in 2018.
Separately, in its quest to consume all possible information about its clients, next month Amazon customers in select US states will be able to order take-out from certain local restaurants directly through the Amazon app. Users will be able to browse participating restaurants, place their order and checkout with stored payment information all through the app, without any additional accounts or logins needed.
The expansion of Amazon Pay integrates Clover point-of-sale systems, sending orders directly to restaurants in select states in the Northeast U.S. "Clover has the technology and scale we needed to bring this vision to life," Amazon said in a statement. "We've had an ongoing partnership with Clover — we used them to great success with our Kindle pop-up stores — and it was only natural to expand on that."
According to CNBC, the restaurant take-out service is already available for orders from T.G.I. Fridays as of July and will expand to include restaurants in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C. — and, of course, the Seattle area.