Let the games begin: Amazon’s new HQ triggers $5B bidding war among these cities

New York Weekend Edition /
Sep.September 09, 2017 04:33 PM

Amazon has sparked a bidding war, and it’s only just beginning.

The ecommerce giant said on Thursday that it was soliciting bids from cities across North America for a place to build its second headquarters — its first outside of the Seattle area.

Amazon said it would be investing $5 billion in the construction of its new headquarters, and it hopes to eventually house 50,000 Amazon staff there, gradually building up its workforce over time.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Unsurprisingly, cities across the United States and Canada are jumping on the opportunity to lure Amazon to their neck of the woods. Many officials have already said they’re planning to submit a formal proposal to the company.

Amazon has some requirements, however. Its new home would ideally be in a city with at least a million people, an international airport, and a “stable and business friendly environment.”

Of course, that means cities will need to offer incentives to the company in order for it to move there.

“Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process,” the company said.

We’ve found nearly 50 cities whose officials have said they are looking into or preparing to submit a proposal to Amazon. Bids are due October 19.

Chicago, Illinois

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has already spoken to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about the possibility of opening a headquarters in the city. Several other corporations — including McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz, and Conagra Brands — have recently planned to move their base from the suburbs to this Midwestern hub.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement that city and regional nonprofits and development agencies are working on a proposal for an Amazon headquarters in the Twin Cities.

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto Major John Tory called the race for the Amazon headquarters “the Olympics of bidding.”

“We should be bidding for this and be very, very competitive and I’m in the midst of talking to the other governments to make sure that’s what we do,” he said Thursday, according to The Toronto Star.

San Diego, California

“San Diego has the geographic proximity to international markets, unparalleled quality of life and workforce talent that companies like Amazon are looking for, so Mayor (Kevin) Faulconer’s office has directed the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. to coordinate a regional response,” Matt Awbrey, Faulconer’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Dallas, Texas

Mike Rosa, senior vice president for economic development of the Dallas Regional Chamber, told the Dallas Morning News that the group has “communicated to Amazon our intent to respond” to the call for proposals.

Denver, Colorado

“This is a megaprospect, and we have already initiated conversations with our economic development partners at the state and regional level to thoroughly consider the best possible fit for Denver and the region,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, according to the Denver Post.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“With an unmatched portfolio of technological talent and intriguing development parcels, Pittsburgh is uniquely positioned to submit a winning bid for Amazon’s facility,” Mayor Bill Peduto said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Baltimore, Maryland

Both city and state officials expressed interest in petitioning Amazon for the headquarters opportunity. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the city would “pursue this opportunity aggressively,” the Baltimore Sun reported.

Boston, Massachusetts

State and local officials told the Boston Globe that they would put together a bid to make Boston the site of Amazon’s new HQ. They said they will likely use a revised verion of the argument that lured GE to the city.

Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, which includes the city of Springfield, also said that it was prepping a bid for Amazon’s consideration.

Columbus, Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that officials are “in the hunt” for Amazon’s HQ and will be submitting a bid.

Detroit, Michigan

A spokesperson for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city is “evaluating [the opportunity] carefully,” and local real estate magnates like Dan Gilbert have thrown their weight behind the idea.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love will be making a pitch to become Amazon’s second home, according to local media.

Phoenix, Arizona

The director of economic development for the city told The Phoenix Business Journal the region can be “very competitive” for the headquarters, though officials have not said definitively if they will be seeking a bid.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson tweeted: “Great news! Amazon would be [a] fantastic addition to Vancouver’s world-class innovation ecosystem.”

City officials stated they will be putting a bid in to Amazon.


A state official told Reuters that it plans to prepare a bid, though they didn’t specify a city.

Washington, DC

Officials stopped short of stating they would place a bid, but they did say they would be pursuing the opportunity.

Brian Kenner, the district’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said, “The District is positioned to be a desirable location for Amazon’s East Coast headquarters.”

Yelp recently decided to move into the capital, and Bezos is currently renovating a large mansion in the town.

Kansas City, Missouri

Tim Cowden, president of The Kansas City Area Development Council said in a statement the city will be putting together an “aggressive” proposal to submit to Amazon.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland tweeted his city’s intention of making a bid, saying: “We’re on it” and that “The @CityofMemphis has so much to offer!”

Nashville, Tenessee

Not to be outdone by its fellow Tennessee city, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry confirmed in a statement that the city would be bidding.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown tweeted that he was “looking into this huge opportunity,” and the county legislature has already passed a resolution in support of the idea.

St. Louis, Missori

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a statement that the city would be putting together “a very competitive” proposal to be the host of Amazon’s new headquarters.

Sacramento, California

“I have an answer for Amazon – Sacramento,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg wrote in a statement, indicating the city is readying a bid for October 19.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said the city is pursuing a proposal “at full speed.”

Portland, Oregon

“The city, the state, the region — it’s fair to say everyone is extremely interested in this one,” a spokesman for Portland’s economic development agency told The Oregonian.

Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton’s mayor called the prospect of Amazon moving into town a ” tasty morsel,” according to the Edmonton Journal.

“We are going after it at full speed,” Mayor Don Iveson continued.

Los Angeles, California

“I welcome the opportunity to compete for this remarkable investment, and the tens of thousands of good-paying jobs it is sure to bring with it,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in his statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

The city “communicated to Amazon our intent to respond,” said Mike Rosa, senior vice president for economic development at the Dallas Regional Chamber, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Calgary, Canada

“When you look at the criteria, I can’t Imagine A Place that meets it better than Calgary,” the city’s mayor said, according to the Calgary Herald.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi added: “I will be making that case strongly.”

Arlington County, Virginia

Outside of DC, in nearby Virgina, officials told local media the county “will be pursuing the opportunity,” though specific locations weren’t discussed.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“I’m proud to say Milwaukee meets all your requirements and even prouder to say our incredible renaissance would complement your vision,” Mayor Tom Barrett wrote in a letter to Bezos, describing the city’s intent to place a bid.

New York, New York

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNBC, “We are very interested in the possibility of Amazon locating a headquarters in the five boroughs, and believe the city’s competitive advantages position it well.”

Las Vegas, Nevada

“Our goal is to compete for projects on all levels,” said Jonas Peterson, CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Allicance. “We believe our community has a great product to offer headquarters-related projects.”

Ottawa, Ontario

“I’ve asked staff to review the application process with a view to being part of the competition,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeted Thursday.

San Jose, California

“Our team is getting [the proposal together] and we’re still looking at it — but on the face of it, it is a pretty exciting opportunity,” Deputy City Manager Kim Walesh said to the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told CNBC: “We have the workforce, infrastructure and quality of life that all major corporations look for in a location. In coordination with the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, Team San Antonio is ready to show that our city is in the most competitive position possible when those opportunities arise and when they align with community priorities.”

London, Ontario

At least one city official thinks London would be a good fit for Amazon — Ward 7 councillor Josh Morgan tweeted: “This opportunity has the potential to be transformational for the City of London and SW Ontario. I’ll be raising it at Committee next week.”

Wilmington, Delaware

John Rago, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communications, said the city is “on this big time,” according to Technical.ly Delaware.

He continued: “This is an exciting opportunity and we are putting together a good case for why Amazon would find Wilmington to be a welcoming and supportive home for the company’s headquarters.”

Birmingham, Alabama

“We are very interested in Amazon, and we will be working with other organizations in making an effort to attract Amazon to this community,” Mayor William Bell told AL.com.

Rhode Island

“Rhode Island is in the game,” Matthew Sheaff, spokesman for the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, told the Providence Journal, adding that it’s too early to tell what specific location the state will pitch to Amazon.

Hartford, Connecticut

“We plan to make a pitch to Amazon, and we plan to work with our partners around the region to do it,” Hartford mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement to NBC.

Houston, Texas

“Houston is definitely interested in the Amazon HQ project and will look into the process of formally soliciting it,” a spokesperson for the city told Houston Business Journal.

Albany, New York

“We will work with [the Albany-based Center for Economic Growth] and others to develop a proposal for Amazon,” Marty Vanags, the president of Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, told Albany Business Review. Saratoga County is one of the neighboring counties of Albany. The capital region would need to bound together all nearby counties in their bid to meet Amazon’s one-million population requirement.

Rochester, New York

Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Duffy has sent two letters to Bezos, indicating that the city would be submitting a proposal.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley tweeted Thursday: “We are already working on our proposal.”

Oakland, California

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told CNBC: “We’re excited to explore the Amazon HQ2 project and the benefits it could bring to our community, as well as our region. At an estimated 50,000 employees, the project would have a profound impact on Bay Area residents, and in the midst of a statewide housing affordability crisis, we would need to address all outcomes a project of this magnitude would create.”

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