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NYT op-ed asks Amazon to do ‘What’s good for America’ and pick St. Louis

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Photo of pinned St Louis on a map of USA. May be used as illustration for traveling theme.

Amazon has announced plans to open a second headquarters in North America that will employ as many as 50,000 workers.

The company announced nearly two weeks ago that it is searching for a city to host the new “HQ2” facility, which will cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate.  Amazon said it would prefer to open the headquarters in a suburban or urban area with more than 1 million people. It’s looking for a community that “thinks big” and a location that will attract technical talent.

There is a lot of competition between cities for the headquarters.  A New York Times Op-Ed columnist wrote an article weighing the options for Amazon.  Ross Douthat writes that the Gateway to the West may be a good choice in his column titled, “Meet Me in St. Louis, Bezos.”  But, it wasn’t the city’s affordable office space, educated workforce, large inland port, access to railroads, international airport or central location that he picked as the reason. Douthat says that the company should do, “What’s good for America.”

This is an excerpt from the New York Times op-ed column:

“A particularly compelling pick, according to my extremely nonscientific “what’s good for America” metric, might be St. Louis — a once-great metropolis fallen on hard times, the major urban center for a large spread of Trump country, the geographic center of the country and the historic bridge between East and West.”

Read the full article here.

The company said that while it would hire teams and executives for the new location, employees who currently work in Seattle would be offered the chance to relocate.

Cities and regional economic development organizations have been invited to submit proposals, and they will likely scramble to offer incentives and tax breaks for Amazon to consider their area. A number of cities have already expressed interest in the possibility of Amazon’s new headquarters coming to town.

A source close to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told CNN Tech the mayor has spoken “several times” with Bezos about the second headquarters. Amazon declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the city of Chicago declined to comment on whether it will submit a proposal but gave the following statement: “Chicago’s unmatched workforce, world-class universities and unparalleled access to destinations throughout the world make it the perfect headquarters location for companies large and small. That’s also why Chicago has led the nation in corporate relocations for the last four years.”

A spokeswoman for the city of Boston confirmed it has seen Amazon is accepting proposals and is reviewing the possibility of a submission.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the city of Columbus, Ohio — which won the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge in 2016 — said it was “intrigued by the prospect” but declined to comment further.

The company estimates that its investments in Seattle from 2010 to 2016 added $38 billion to the city’s economy. These investments include buildings, parks and infrastructure, such as corporate offices and Prime Now delivery sites. Its headquarters in Seattle boasts 33 buildings and 24 restaurants or cafes. It covers 8.1 million square feet.

The announcement of Amazon’s second headquarters is a part of a larger effort from Amazon to grow its footprint at home and abroad.

In January, the company announced plans to create over 100,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. It’s been steadily announcing new fulfillment centers.

Amazon also recently closed its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods as it expands into the groceries market and brick-and-mortar stores. In addition, it will start selling its branded smart home devices at Amazon bookstores and retailers like Kohl’s soon.