Amazon received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America, the e-commerce giant said Monday.
The company expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow its second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs — a full equal to its Seattle campus, Amazon said. Responses to Amazon’s request for proposal were due by midnight last Thursday.
Following the release of its RFP, several cities scrambled to pull together incentive packages and tout their advantages as a second Amazon base, although other cities and some advocates warned about the downsides.
Since Sept. 7 (the day Amazon first announced its search for a second headquarters), mayors, governors and city council members from all over North America have ostentatiously revealed their unique civic attributes and potential financial packages in an effort to garner Amazon's attention. All that really mattered, however, is what they were able to promise in their official responses to the e-commerce giant's RFP.
Outside the cities' own pitches, several analysts have thrown out guesses on where Amazon will land, based on Amazon’s stated preferences. Those include requirements like: metropolitan areas with more than one million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent and communities that "think big and creatively." Amazon also outlined optional amenities, like the possibility for an urban or downtown campus, a similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus and a development-prepped site.
Moody’s Analytics this month crunched the numbers and declared Austin the winner, followed by Atlanta; Philadelphia; Rochester, NY; Pittsburgh; the New York tri-state area; Miami; Portland, OR; Boston; and Salt Lake City. Retail analyst Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, however, told Retail Dive that the "Mid-Atlantic has clear advantages from available mass transit and international airports along with proximity to the largest pool of high level college graduates" and said he thinks that a pool of highly skilled workers is among Amazon’s biggest priorities, making cities with several colleges and universities the most likely candidates.
Not everyone was as gung-ho about Amazon moving in, though. This month, 73 organizations representing community members, warehouse and service workers and faith communities across 21 states signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos, calling for minimum standards for inclusion and diversity in the workforce, living wages, investment in transit, housing and infrastructure, and an open and transparent "people’s RFP" process.
Others say that the side effects of Amazon settling in would accelerate urban development to a problematic degree — leading to housing spikes, traffic snarls and constant disruption from massive construction.
While Amazon crowed about the large response to its HQ call, not every city in America was preoccupied by it. Little Rock, AR on Thursday sought to let the e-commerce giant down easy in full page newspaper ads and a video released through Twitter. "Hey, Amazon, we've got to talk. It's not you, it's us," declared the city, gently, while touting its many advantages as a vibrant smaller metropolis and many reasons why it doesn't need the headache that hosting Amazon's headquarters would bring. "You've got so much going for you, and you'll find what you're looking for."