Quicker than you could say “Alexa,” Amazon’s surprise proposal for a second headquarters in North America echoed around the world. Within minutes of the unexpected news flash on Sept. 7, the Chamber’s phone and email systems lit up. That was likely the case for every other major metro area across the country.
In case you had not heard, the world’s largest online retailer on Sept. 7 announced its intent to invest $5 billion to build a second company headquarters to include 50,000 high-paying jobs. The company opened up a request for proposal (Phase 1) that cities and communities can submit electronically by October 19. For its final selection and announcement, Amazon pinned it down to 2018. The Chamber expects the city and the region to aggressively compete for the project.
As you would expect, Amazon’s announcement generated tons of media coverage and Austin was included in many of the articles. At last count, more than 1,600 stories representing a potential reach of 1.2 billion appeared in five days (Meltwater media search, 9/7-12). The Greater Austin Chamber was contacted by reporters at local media outlets as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and as far reaching as BBC News in London.
As the competition will be intense, several national media attempted to do the selection based on Amazon’s stated criteria. While the Seattle Times listed Austin first on its list of potential finalists, The New York Times, CNN and several others put Austin on the short list, but went with other cities.
Here are some comments from the Chamber via Opportunity Austin (OA) about why Austin and Central Texas work for Amazon.
“In my estimation, our city, our region and our state should work collaboratively to earn the right to host Amazon’s HQ2,” said Gary Farmer, OA Board member and President, Heritage Title. “Without question, the competition for this project will be fierce. Amazon is familiar with the Austin area and our incredible workforce, quality of life and business climate through their existing operations in NW Austin, the new acquisition of our very own Whole Foods and their amazing success in San Marcos with a major Fulfillment facility where they employed more than 3,000 employees in the first 6 months of operation.”
- Austin has the right attributes, from a talented workforce to plenty of land to one of the nation’s fastest-growing airports, among other pluses. In addition, there would be synergy here, with Amazon having recently purchased Austin-based Whole Foods Market.
- We have numerous development sites in preferred growth corridors in Austin and neighboring communities which could allow Amazon to create a world class campus for its future.
- A project of this potential magnitude could yield fantastic jobs for Central Texas families, create opportunities for Austin businesses both large and small, produce major returns for taxing jurisdictions even after the needed incentives are reconciled and bring a huge lift to all of our non-profit community. It would be a game changing win!
Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin region works. We serve as the voice of business for our member organizations and their employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.