The idea of companies buying out cities to expand workforce, among other things, dates back to 1903, when Hershey’s pioneered the trend. Finding home in Pennsylvania pumped fresh blood into the enterprise and helped it rise after a series of failures that nearly sent the owner into bankruptcy. Last week, Stonecrest’s City Council voted 4 to 2 to change its name to “Amazon City” and give the U.S. e-commerce and cloud computing company 345 acres of land if it chooses the city as a destination for its second headquarters.
Originally based in Seattle, Amazon announced in early September that it was looking for a new city for its second headquarters. The company says it will invest around $5 billion in the construction and operation of the new headquarters. According to the company, an ideal “Amazon City” should have more than 1 million people enjoying a stable and business-friendly environment, and locations that can attract and retain technical talent. The company has opened request for proposals, asking cities to identify incentive programs available for their second headquarters, or as they’re calling it HQ2, including tax credits or exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives, permitting, and fee reductions.
In return, Amazon plans to create 50,000 jobs. The company’s direct hiring and investment, construction and operation of the HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and pump tens of billions of dollars in investment inspired by the new headquarters. Between 2010 and 2016, Amazon estimates that its investments in Seattle added $38 billion to the city’s economy.
Commenting on the news of Amazon looking to find a second home outside Seattle, Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold said: “It gives us a little breathing room to build good mass transit, ensure affordable housing and open up pathways into higher education for the future workforce.” Even though some citizens in Seattle are not very happy about their company neighbor, many politicians are concerned about news of the company’s second headquarters.
In May 2017, protesters stood outside the Seattle headquarters as Amazon shareholders gathered inside for their annual meeting. The protesters’ concern was divided between Amazon’s notorious partnership with Breitpart, a far right-wing news website that has been deemed racist by the public, and the company’s dependence on robots slowly replacing human employees.
Moreover, some blame Amazon for turning Seattle, which once identified as egalitarian, into a gentrified city with traffic problems, a high-end building frenzy and rising income inequality.
What Amazon is calling “HQ2” and others are calling Amazon City is looking for a space in a city in North America, not necessarily in the U.S. “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” says Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “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.”