Amazon Is Looking for City to Host Its 2nd HQ in North America; L.A. Plans Bid

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Amazon has announced plans to open a second headquarters in North America that will employ as many as 50,000 workers, and Los Angeles plans to be in the running.

People walk past part of the new Amazon headquarter complex under construction in downtown Seattle, Washington, on Sept. 24, 2015. (Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images)

People walk past part of the new Amazon headquarter complex under construction in downtown Seattle, Washington, on Sept. 24, 2015. (Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images)

The company announced Thursday that it is searching for a city to host the new “HQ2” facility, which will cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “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.”

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.

L.A. is among the cities vying for the opportunity, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I can confirm we are planning to bid,” Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, told the Times.

Lloyd Greif, an investment banker who once chaired of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said L.A.’s bid would require cooperation between Garcetti, Gov. Jerry Brown and the county economic development corporation to create incentives and find land that would entice Amazon. Greif called the possibility a “huge opportunity” for the region.

“In terms of the importance to the city, I think the Olympics (in 2028) would pale against this,” Greif told the Times.

Amazon 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.

In addition to L.A., several cities have already expressed interest.

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

A spokesperson for the city of Chicago wouldn’t 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.”

Dallas expressed enthusiasm at the prospect, too.

“We will aggressively demonstrate that Dallas and our surrounding area would be the perfect spot for [its] expansive business needs,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement to CNN Tech. “Amazon already has an extensive amount of business here.”

Toronto’s Mayor John Tory also said the city is a “prime candidate” for Amazon’s second headquarters due to its “homegrown tech talent.” The city’s staff is working with investment attraction agency Toronto Global to put together “an attractive bid” for the opportunity.

Meanwhile, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the state is “excited” about the possibility of hosting Amazon’s second headquarters.

Pittsburgh said it plans to “compete” for the new site and has already scheduled strategy sessions and started planning.

“This is a transformational opportunity unlike any that we’ve ever seen,” Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said in a statement.

Pittsburgh could be a strong candidate for Amazon, considering it is already a major testing ground for self-driving car technology and robotics.

Other cities expressing interest include Baltimore, Boston, Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Vancouver and Washington D.C.

Amazon 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. Meanwhile, it will start selling its branded smart home devices at Amazon bookstores and retailers like Kohl’s soon.

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