Cities across the country are hoping to win the local economic lottery windfall that will come from a new 50,000-person Amazon headquarters after the rapidly growing company announced Thursday that it intends to open a second hub in a place that fits a variety of criteria. Among those criteria are access to tech talent and mass transit, being a 45-minute drive (or less) from an international airport, and being near a population center of one million or more people. This of course describes just about every major city in California, including San Francisco, and if Amazon decides it wants to stick to the West Coast, both Oakland and San Jose plan to put themselves out there in the running.
"We want to find a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit,” the company says on the website devoted to the location search. To that end, cities can submit proposals via this RFP, and obviously the company will be looking for the most tax subsidies and incentives possible, including donated land and the like.
"Oakland always seeks to attract jobs and prosperity to our great city,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement to CBS 5. "We’re excited to explore the Amazon HQ2 project and the benefits it could bring to our community, as well as our region."
Meanwhile, San Jose Deputy City Manager Kim Walesh tells the Chronicle, "We are very serious about responding to [the RFP]. Our team is getting [the proposal together] and we’re still looking at it but on the face of it, it is a pretty exciting opportunity. The transformational impact that Amazon had on Seattle is a great model."
Neither San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose could seriously be in the running, however, because of likely criteria that Amazon hasn't explicitly laid out. As the Washington Post notes in this list of the 39 American cities that fit Amazon's stated criteria, "markets with deep enough pools of workers, such as San Francisco, are already crowded by corporate competitors in search of the same talent." Also, in places like SF and New York and really, by extension, Oakland and San Jose to a slightly lesser extent the high cost of living could be a deterrent when having to hire 50,000 new workers.
There's also the issue of geographic diversity it seems intuitive that the company would necessarily want to stake a claim in another time zone, likely on the East Coast or in the Midwest. These unstated factors all put places like Kansas City, Atlanta, Durham, and Boston in likely better positions to compete. And what about Austin, where Amazon-owned Whole Foods is headquartered and where there's plenty of tech talent of late?
CNBC puts Atlanta, Mexico City, and Los Angeles high in their ranking as well.
Will SF be putting in a bid just for the hell of it? We shall see.