Web giant Amazon announced today that it’s planning to build a second North American headquarters outside of Seattle, sending Baltimore officials into a frenzy to make their home Amazon’s next corporate home.
The online retailer and tech firm is making its future-shaping move into something of a contest for municipal leaders in America’s major cities. The company laid out preferences for its hopeful “HQ2” destination. Among them: The chosen metro area must have more than 1 million people; a “stable and business-friendly environment”; the potential to draw tech talent; and communities that “think big and creatively” in terms of location and real estate.
Mayor Catherine Pugh and Bill Cole, president of the Baltimore Development Corporation, are already working on it, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. Cole in a statement touted the city’s mid-Atlantic location and pre-existing relationship with Amazon, which has a fulfillment center in Southeast Baltimore.
“We are excited by Amazon’s latest announcement and will pursue this opportunity aggressively to make a compelling case for Baltimore City as its second headquarter location,” Pugh said in a statement.
Councilman Eric Costello alluded to the fulfillment center’s success on Twitter, saying emphatically, “we can and we will do it again!”
— Eric Costello (@CouncilmanETC) September 7, 2017
The perks of Amazon coming to town are enormous, assuming you want one of the world’s 100 largest companies building a sprawling headquarters in Charm City. The firm says it will invest more than $5 billion in construction and create a headquarters large enough to generate 50,000 jobs.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in statement, “we expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters.”
For an idea of what that means, the company says its Seattle headquarters brought $38 billion into Seattle’s economy from 2010 to 2016, has employed more than 40,000 people and created an additional 53,000 jobs through direct investments. It’s also enormous, with 33 buildings spread over 8.1 million square feet. Just to serve Amazon’s employees, 24 restaurants have opened on the campus.
Kevin Plank-backed Sagamore Development wants in. Company president Marc Weller said in a statement that Port Covington “would be a perfect home for Amazon’s second corporate headquarters,” thanks to its regional location and access to airports, sea ports and rail transport.
“Along with Under Armour, having another major innovative company’s headquarters at Port Covington would be a huge boon for Baltimore City and its workforce,” Weller said. “We will work with state and local officials to aggressively pursue this opportunity.”
The company is experienced with drawing big public investments for big business. Last year, its leaders convinced city council members to fund its long-term Port Covington development with more than $660 million worth of taxpayer-backed bonds.
According to CNN Money, leaders in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Toronto are already throwing their hats in the ring, too.
This story has been updated with comment from Sagamore Development president Marc Weller.