Amazon Is Looking To Build A Second Company Headquarters. Could It Be In St. Louis?
Amazon set the heads of city planners and dreamers spinning today with news that the online shopping behemoth is looking to build a second company headquarters in North America. Amazon expects “HQ2”, as the plan is called, to cost as much as $5 billion to build and employ as many as 50,000 people with an average compensation package of $100,000+.
Could the second Amazon headquarters complex be in St. Louis?
Amazon is headquarted in Seattle, Washington and maintains a 33-building headquarters complex that comprises 8.1 million square feet, according to a Request For Proposal (RFP) the company put out pertaining to the HQ2 project.
The company estimates that it has invested more $3.7 billion in capital expenditures in Seattle like buildings and infastructure. It has created 53,000 jobs in the city and led to $38 billion in direct investments in the city, according to the company’s estimates.
In 2010, when Amazon moved its headquarters to downtown Seattle, 7 Fortune 500 companies at engineering or Research and Development centers in Seattle. By 2017, 31 companies fit that bill.
A recent report from Glassdoor named Seattle the fastest growing U.S. city for software development jobs, thank largely to the company’s presence. The report was based on software job postings on Glassdoor.
Could Amazon’s Second Headquarters Be In St. Louis?
Could Amazon’s second headquarters complex be in St. Louis? It would take a region and state-wide effort that hasn’t been seen since the Los Angeles Rams were lured to St. Louis. While it may not be necessary to give away the farm in incentives, like St. Louis did in the mid-1990s, it would likely take a hefty incentive package.
Amazon’s RFP asks that each Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) coordinates to submit a single plan to the company by October 19, 2017. The company then plans to make a decision on a site in 2018.
The St. Louis MSA technically stretches from Warren County on the Missouri side to Clinton County on the Illinois side. On the northern end, it includes Lincoln County in Missouri and Jersey County in Illinois. To the south it includes Jefferson County in Missouri and Monroe County in Illinois.
The population of the St. Louis MSA, according to the 2010 census, was around 2.8 million, the 20th largest in the country.
Could a plan be put together that would include incentives from Missouri and Illinois? That could be a problem considering the battle the two states waged in fighting for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NSA) headquarters.
The NGA project could work in St Louis’ favor, however. Amazon wants HQ2 to be built in an area where its easier to attract and retain employees with the technical expertise necessary for the company. The current NGA presence and the new $1.75 billion project could be attractive to Amazon CEO and fouder Jeff Bezos, especially coupled with the emergence of the Cortext District and its upcoming expansion.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier today that they city was putting together a team to work on the project and the city “would make a very competitive proposal” to the company. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger tweeted earlier that he is working with Mayor Krewson on a proposal. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has a previously-scheduled press conference set for noon today. He is expected to announce “several hundred new Missouri jobs” and will likely field questions about Amazon’s announcement.
Kansas City, Missouri is also likely to submit a proposal to Amazon.
Not All Rainbows & Unicorns In Seattle For Amazon
There’s no argument that Amazon has had a massive effect on the Seattle landscape. But has it affected the city in a good way? That’s more of a debate. Arguments against the company say that it has contributed to pricing many people out of the city.
According to Zillow, the median home price in Seattle is $690,300 or $469 per square foot. The median rent is $2,650 per month. The company lists the median home price in St. Louis as $121,300 or $125 per square foot. Median rent is $1,050, according to the company.
Activists have also accused Amazon of inequalities in compensation, an accusation the company denies.
So Where Will Amazon Go?
As you might imagine, cities all over North America are scrambling to attract Amazon.
GeekWire listed six cities today that they think have a legitimate shot at attracting Bezos and company. Toronto topped their list that also included Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Atlanta. Austin also made their list and it was noted that Texas may be attractive to Amazon considering, like Washington, the state doesn’t have an income tax.
The Dallas Morning News thinks Texas may be high on Bezos’ personal list considering he spent several summers on his grandfather’s cattle ranch in the state. Also noted in the article is the tidbit that George Strait is Bezos’ cousin.
MarketWatch noted 11 MSAs that meet Amazon’s requirements for its second company headquarters. St. Louis did not make the list, nor did any other Midwest city.
Amazon’s stock is at 978.62 per share from its opening of 974.00 as of this writing.
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