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2017-09-07 12:26:02
Amazon Announces Plans for Huge New North America Offices

Amazon said on Thursday that it was searching for a second headquarters in North America, a huge new development that would cost as much as $5 billion to build and run, and would house as many as 50,000 employees.

The announcement is likely to set off jockeying among several major cities, and is the latest step in the rapid expansion for the online retail giant. It recently completed its biggest acquisition, of the high-end grocery chain Whole Foods, and has embarked on a major hiring drive, adding tens of thousands of new employees.

The company, which is based in Seattle, listed a series of requirements for the new location, including a metropolitan area that has a population greater than one million, “a stable and business-friendly environment,” and a location that was able to attract and retain workers. The company is calling the development HQ2.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in upfront and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

The company said it was inviting proposals for its new site, which it said could have a similar layout to its Seattle headquarters, including an urban or downtown campus.

It insisted the new offices would be a “complete headquarters for Amazon — not a satellite office,” and that executives would be able to choose to base their teams in either, or both, Seattle and the new location.

Bids for the new offices are due by Oct. 19, and the company said it expected to announce its choice next year.

The news marks the latest step in Amazon’s remarkable evolution, growing from an online bookseller into a company that now offers next-day delivery of millions of products, a raft of hardware from tablets to home assistants, and an increasingly aggressive foray into grocery shopping.

Amazon has been growing rapidly in recent years. The company now has more than 382,000 employees worldwide. In January, it vowed to create 100,000 jobs in the United States over the next 18 months. It increased its domestic work force to more than 180,000 employees at the end of 2016, from 30,000 in 2011.

That figure does not include the thousands of temporary workers who join the company during high-demand periods like Christmas.

The retailer employed 300,000 people globally by its 20th year as a public company, the fastest any American company has reached that mark, according to the Progressive Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

Still, the hiring spree has not protected Amazon from the wrath of critics, including President Trump, who argue that the company is killing retail jobs by pushing shoppers online and away from department stores and malls.

The economic impact of being home to a new Amazon headquarters would be considerable for wherever is chosen. The company says that every dollar it has invested in Seattle has generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s overall economy.

Amazon’s reputation in its home city has tarnished over the years. Local activists complain that it is driving gentrification in Seattle, and the retailer’s high-pressure work culture was the subject of a New York Times investigation. It has also been criticized for not being sufficiently involved in the city’s civic life, especially compared to other Seattle-based companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks.

Amazon’s requirement for a metropolitan area with a relatively high population for its new site, however, narrows the list of potential sites, and will set off a competition between regions across North America eager to court such a large employer.

Companies that look for major new locations often set off bidding wars between cities and states desperate for new sources of tax revenue and additional jobs.

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics supplier, has, for example, announced it will be building a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin, but the state’s $3 billion in tax credits to the company — lavish even by the standards of regions courting major employers — have raised opposition.

Closer to home for Amazon, the state of Washington approved $8.7 billion in support for Boeing through 2040 if it built its 777X plane in the state. That deal was the subject of a European Union complaint alleging that the incentives were “illegal subsidies,” though the World Trade Organization recently sided with the company in the latest round in a long-running legal dispute.