Amazon.com Inc. knew it wanted to split HQ2 into multiple locations months before announcing the decision.
The Seattle-based company in early September decided two new “headquarters” locations would help the company recruit more employees and spread out growth, an Amazon spokesperson told the Business Journal.
But it wasn’t until Nov. 13 that Amazon announced the plan to open two new offices with at least 25,000 employees in New York’s Long Island City and northern Virginia’s National Landing. New York officials said they learned about the split at least two weeks prior to the announcement and Virginia officials said they were told about six weeks prior.
Amazon originally sent out a request for proposals for a $5 billion, 50,000-person second headquarters that would be a full-equal to Seattle. The decision to split HQ2 was foreshadowed in company’s original Sept. 7, 2017 request for proposals: “Amazon may select one or more proposals and negotiate with the parties submitting such proposals before making an award decision.”
Splitting the growth between two cities may help the company avoid some of the challenges related to affordable housing and transportation that it has faced in Seattle as the city has struggled to keep up with the company’s rapid growth.
It also may have helped Amazon score more incentives. While northern Virginia cut its incentives package in half to reflect the split, it’s unclear if New York City altered its bid after learning of the split decision. New York City Economic Development Corp. has yet to respond to a request for further details about its offerings. The company received at least $2.4 billion in incentives from the selected cities and Nashville, which received a 5,000-person office.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Amazon still plans to add 2 million square feet of office space and 10,000 employees by the end of 2020, bringing the company to 12 million square feet and more than 55,000 employees within the city limits. That doesn’t include the development the company has planned across the lake in Bellevue.
Amazon will start hiring next year for jobs in northern Virginia and New York, where an economic development official recently said only half of the jobs Amazon plans to bring will be technology jobs.
By Ashley Stewart – Staff Writer, Puget Sound Business Journal – November 28, 2018