plans to divide its second headquarters evenly between two places instead of choosing a city, according to a person familiar…
plans to divide its second headquarters evenly between two places instead of choosing a city, according to a person familiar with the case, a surprise decision that will spread the impact of a massive new office across two communities.
The driving force behind the decision to build two similar offices for “HQ2” in addition to the company’s headquarters in Seattle-recruits enough technical talent, according to the person familiar with the company’s plans. The move will also facilitate potential problems with housing, transit and other areas where the addition of tens of thousands of workers can cause problems.
Under the new plan, Amazon would divide the workforce with 25,000 employees in each city, said the person.
Amazon is in advanced talks with several cities but has not made a final decision on which two places it will choose, according to people familiar with the issue. The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported that Amazon was in late discussions with Crystal City in Virginia, Dallas and New York City.
A decision and announcement may come as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the question.
When Amazon originally announced its plans for HQ2 more than a year ago, it planned in one place, the person familiar with the plans said. But Amazon’s thinking took place throughout the process as the company concluded that it would be possible to access more technical talent than in just one location, says this person.
Amazon has hired aggressively on many of its businesses, including for its profit-driving cloud computing division and for its artificial intelligence assistant Alexa. The competition for software engineers, computer programmers and AI experts is hard across the country, not just from cash-lovers like Amazon, but also in automotive, banking and retail.
Amazon’s shift means that the company will essentially create two offices smaller than their Seattle headquarters, which hold 45,000 employees.
The decision to share its long-awaited economic development project in two follows a more than year-long search process launched in September 201
7, where Amazon said it was looking for a full-scale headquarters for its home in Seattle. The company said it would involve as many as 50,000 employees and more than $ 5 billion in investments for the new site for almost 20 years.
More than 200 cities and areas sent in proposals, after which Amazon cut down the list to 20 finalists. Earlier this year, it conducted whirlwind visits and requested data councils from the finalists to help make their decision.
By building two headquarters, Amazon can tap different geographic regions for talent, including some who may not want to move far away from home. It can also not compete with other major tech giants in a certain area, as it does
in the Seattle area.
In addition, the decision would allow it to reduce the potential headaches for selected areas. Amazon has wanted to avoid being the only major company in the city, something it has treated in Seattle, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking. Adding 50,000 workers – even over more than a decade – would likely lead to problems for transit systems and potentially lead to problems such as a lack of affordable housing.
The northern Virginia City, one block in Arlington County, seems to be a front runner to take one of the two final positions, according to people familiar with the issue. In Northern Virginia, Amazon already negotiates with government officials on incentives, while it is also talking
JBG Smith Properties
a publicly traded property investment trust, about the property in Crystal City as it owns. Part of the negotiations will help to pin down the investment targets that Amazon would have to meet to qualify for incentives.
Crystal City, across the Potomac River from Washington DC, has an urban feel, many government offices and a ready-made campus with empty, older office space that Amazon could use. The area has good access to technical talent and transportation, two factors that are high on Amazon’s wish list.
Oddsmakers on gaming sites have had Northern Virginia as favorite for most of the year. Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has a home in the D.C. area and owns Washington Post. The region was also the only subway where Amazon named three finalists; DC, and Montgomery County, MD, were the other two.
Another top candidate, Dallas, has lower living costs and incentives for public-private partnerships, in the form of tax reductions, grants, infrastructure cost sharing and other methods to offset project and operating costs. It is also in Texas, which does not charge personal income taxes.
In New York, a neighborhood Amazon has explored Long Island City, in Queens, the newspaper previously reported. The residential area borders the East River overlooking Manhattan and develops with high-rise buildings filled with young professionals.
Following a campaign rally on Monday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that he did everything he could to attract Amazon to the state.
“We have compiled a very strong incentive package, and we have had great meetings,” said Mr Cuomo. “It has been very positive. And all else I can think of will bring us over the top – all they want the name Amazon. I change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it requires, because it would be a good economic boost . “
-Jimmy Vielkind contributed to this article.
Write to Laura Stevens at [email protected]