Business and Labor

6 Questions Answered About Amazon's New HQ

Chamber of Commerce CEO Maud Daudon said the city has implemented policies that are "at best unfriendly, at worst, outright hostile toward the needs of our largest employers."

By Hayat Norimine September 7, 2017

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King County executive Dow Constantine speaks at an Amazon presser on the company's new biospheres on May 4, 2017.

Amazon on Thursday morning made headlines again shortly following its acquisition of Whole Foods: It's seeking a second headquarters that will be "a full equal to Seattle," CEO Jeff Bezos said. Its senior workers will get to decide whether to relocate when it happens. And the announcement has some Seattleites rattled.

Here's what we know so far about the company's plans, what it's looking for, and Seattle's future. 

1. Where will this new location be? Amazon's still trying to figure that out. It announced the second HQ on Thursday morning alongside a request for proposal—it's soliciting applications from metro regions across North America. The proposal can include "multiple real estate sites in more than one jurisdiction." (Read the full RFP here.)

2. The big one: What does this mean for Seattle? Amazon insists the company will maintain its Seattle headquarters and won't cut back on hiring here. According to the company, it's generated $38 billion for the city's economy from 2010 to 2016. 

The announcement comes as a shock, and that includes those at City Hall. (More on that in The Seattle Times.) Suffice it to say, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is not too thrilled with it. Chamber president and CEO Maud Daudon said the second HQ should be a "wake-up call" and blames the city for implementing policies that are "at best unfriendly, at worst, outright hostile toward the needs of our largest employers." In a released statement Thursday, Daudon said the Chamber wants to do everything in its power to keep Amazon in the region and remain competitive, which means improving the business climate and "changing attitudes" about Seattle's employers. 

Amazon hasn't indicated whether the business climate in Seattle is part of the reason it would seek a second HQ, though in its RFP did include "a stable and consistent business climate" as an important factor. The company listed its rapidly expanding business as the primary reason. Mayor Ed Murray in a statement said today was "an exciting day for Amazon" and promised to coordinate with Governor Jay Inslee on a plan for future business growth in the region.

"My office will immediately begin conversations with Amazon around their needs with today's announcement and the company's long-term plans for Seattle," Murray said. 

3. What will the site look like? Amazon wants it to be in an accessible, metropolitan area. Requirements include: 30 miles within a population center, about 45 minutes from an international airport, less than 2 miles from major highways and arterial roads, and access to mass transit. Daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington D.C. is preferred, as is a diverse population, higher education institutions, and local elected officials "willing to work with the company." 

The company will need more than 500,000 square feet, and the site could be more than 8 million in total square footage—the HQ in Seattle right now is at 8.1 million square feet. The location can be a greenfield or infill site, an existing building, or a combination of the three. 

4. How much will this cost Amazon? The company says the capital investment will be over $5 billion in the long run—$300,000-$600,000 for phase one, which is up to 1 million square feet in 2019. 

5. When will this happen? The response deadline for the company's RFP is October 19, 2017. Next year the company will select its site, and phase one of construction is slated for 2019. But it's unclear when Amazon actually plans to start operations at the new HQ. The campus expansion to be as big as Seattle's could take more than 1o years. 

6. How many workers is Amazon hiring for this new campus? It's 50,000 new full-time jobs, with an average salary of above $100,000, over the next 10-15 years. Amazon hasn't specified how many workers it has in Seattle, but it's tens of thousands. 

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