Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos caused a nation-wide pandemonium on Thursday Sept. 7 when he announced that his company was looking for a location to build its second corporate headquarters.
Cities across the United States have been queuing up to host this new development, called HQ2, which will bring 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment to its host. Cities have until Oct. 19 to show their interest before a final decision is made by Amazon in 2018.
Major metropolises, including Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia have already shown interest and are beginning the long season of courting Amazon. Cities of this size offer a flood of tax breaks in hopes of adding Amazon to their bouquet of corporate giants; these cities, however, are already congested with large firms. For this reason, they do not deserve the bid as much as smaller cities.
Amazon would be dwarfed in the major cities because large tech giants already have deep roots in these metropolises. Amazon would be joining other industries already competing against one another and would pay a heavy price for it.
Smaller cities such as Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Buffalo and Rochester have replied with excitement to Amazon’s announcement in hopes of hosting HQ2. These less concentrated locations would benefit greatly from HQ2 and should receive the bid from Amazon.
While these cities likely could not match Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia in the amount of tax breaks, they hold a multitude of other long-term advantages. Amazon would face far less competition in these smaller economic hubs that are largely surrounded by regional companies, because they are less likely to impair Amazon’s success.
If Amazon intends to invest $5 billion over the next 15 to 17 years in its future HQ2 headquarters, it is more profitable for them to invest in a location that is not seeing that kind of cash flow at the moment.
The price of real estate is also a key factor to consider. Anyone who rents in metropolises knows how ludicrously expensive the property can be. With that in mind, Amazon is looking for property similar in size to its Seattle campus, which is roughly 8.1 million square feet. That large of a piece of land in a major metropolis is almost impossible to find.
“In Buffalo, Amazon could have a Seattle-sized downtown footprint at a cut-rate price, compared to most other places in the running,” President of the Empire Center for Public Policy E.J. McMahon said.
Additionally, after Amazon settles into its new location and begins to attract jobs and growth, it will become an economic staple of whichever city it chooses.
President of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Robert Duffy has pledged that the community will request Amazon’s consideration.
“As your team reviews potential sites, I urge you to consider our community,” Duffy said.
There is no doubt that these smaller cities, such as Rochester, face an uphill battle against the major business metropolises of the U.S. Still, they deserve the HQ2 more than already established cities.
The benefits for both the community and the company are just too significant to ignore and should heavily influence Amazon’s decision.
Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Birmingham and Rochester are ready to step up to foster the new HQ2 for Amazon and they should be given the opportunity to do so.