What you need to know about Amazon HQs in New York City, Virginia
Navigating the legal agreements of $5 billion in investments — and requests for helipads.
After a year-long wait, Amazon sent the news cycle reeling Tuesday after confirming the locations of additional headquarters in New York City and Arlington, Virginia.
Amazon added the East Coast cities to its original West Coast location in Seattle, giving the company bicoastal reach. The company will invest more than $5 billion and offer 50,000 jobs between the two locations. It is also creating a "Center of Excellence" for its Operations business in Nashville.
Nashville's location will require upwards of 5,000 workers and will be responsible for Amazon's customer fulfillment, supply chain and other operational needs, according to the company.
Though hundreds of U.S. cities made the bid for the headquarters, it went with metropolitan areas already saturated with tech talent instead of a less-developed emerging hub.
While Amazon will begin hiring for the new headquarters in 2019, it has more than 8,000 open positions at its Seattle headquarters.
Here are the details of what's expected of the cities and Amazon:
One of the headquarters will be nestled in Long Island City, a "mixed community where arts and industry intersect," according to Amazon.
The location will have access to all of NYC's main transit options, highlighting Amazon's search for a city with a multitude transit options for commuters. Though there are subway issues the city continues to deal with, Amazonians can expect eight subway lines, 13 bus lines, the commuter rail, bike-sharing services and ferries.
Some critics, however, are concerned about the tax breaks Amazon is receiving.
Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
Still, local officials are looking forward to the economic impact it can have on the area. "When I took office, I said we would build a new New York State – one that is fiscally responsible and fosters a business climate that is attractive to growing companies and the industries of tomorrow," said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, in a statement.
New York paces much farther ahead of other national tech hubs, like Silicon Valley, with the number of people it has employed in tech, according to a Cushman and Wakefield report. As of year-end 2017, New York reached nearly 425,000 employed technology professionals, about 104,000 more than Washington.
NYC, the Empire State Development and Amazon have collectively agreed to individual investments of $5 million each beginning in 2020 to guarantee "workforce development initiatives," according to the Long Island City project agreement.
The Big Apple stands to collect about $2.5 billion in Amazon investment alongside the 25,000 jobs the headquarters promises. The actual infrastructure is energy efficient, four million square feet and could expand to eight million square feet.
Such an expansion is expected to create another 15,000 jobs within 15 years.
As part of Amazon's legal terms of agreement, the company has to partake in community outreach designed to "engage all relevant stakeholders" from the headquarter's announcement to the "final approval" of the general project plan for construction.
However, both New York and Amazon agree that an "onsite helipad is not feasible," but the city will aid Amazon "in securing access to a helipad in an alternative location in reasonable proximity" to its development sites.
Additionally, the city will benefit from an estimated tax revenue of more than $10 billion over the next two decades. Amazon is set to collect $1.525 billion in performance-based direct incentives due to the headquarter's job creation.
The average wage for the NYC headquarter's 25,000 jobs is $150,000.
Amazon already has about 1,800 employees in New York working in advertising, fashion and publishing.
Amazon plans to give back to the community in the form of a a donated space on its campus to serve as a "startup incubator and for use by artists and industrial businesses," according to the company.
The finalization of the additional headquarters come while Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is looking to expand its NYC office space to accommodate 12,000 more employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company confirmed Monday that it was planning to double its NYC staff over the next 10 years.
The company is also expected to hold or participate in "events on a semi-annual basis at Queensbridge Houses" like job fairs and resume workshops. The city wants Amazon to help promote employment opportunities for non-traditional demographics at least the first three years of development, starting in 2020.
From thereon, the city and Amazon plan to "collaborate in good faith" to further support NYC Housing and Authority tenants.
National Landing in Arlington, Virginia is the home for many commuters in the nation's capital.
The National Landing area is "a newly branded neighborhood," which includes Arlington's Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods as well as Alexandria's Potomac Yard, Arlington County said.
The D.C. metro area is becoming a tech hub in its own right. The nation's capital boasts the largest college-educated workforce compared to any other major U.S. metropolitan city. It is also where federal policies and regulations are made, many of which big tech lobbies against.
Similar to NYC, National Landing is in close proximity to major metro lines and a national airport. However, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has undergone lengthy maintenance procedures that slow and frustrate local commuters.
But the Northern Virginia location is set to receive the same half of the headquarters' share. Amazon agreed to use its standing to "make or cause to be a Capital Investment of at least $2 billion," create 25,000 "Phase I New Jobs" and potentially create another 12,850 "Phase II New Jobs," according to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Office space and accommodations are expected to be the same for both locations, though Arlington is set to receive an estimated incremental tax revenue of $3.2 billion over the next two decades.
The average salary for Arlington's workers will also be $150,000 like NYC. With the promise of fulfilling its high-paying jobs, Amazon is set to receive performance-based direct incentives of $573 million, which includes a cash grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia of up to $550 million, related to Phase I jobs.
The company has to meet at least 90% of its annual target for the full grant to be admissible, according to Arlington, Virginia Office of the County Manager.
However, if more than 10% of the jobs are "primarily engaged in supporting Federal Government Contracts," that same number will "adjust downward" the grant payment for the calendar year.
But like New York, Amazon agreed to make "strategic investments in and around National Landing" using a portion of the new revenue through Tax Increment Financing (TIF).
And of course, as part of the deal, Arlington "understands that Amazon desires to have a helipad" at the facility. Maybe that will ease local commuters' frustrations.
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