Three areas in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area were selected as finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, the company announced Jan. 18. The facility is currently set to open in 2019 and is expected to generate up to 50,000 new jobs in the city in which it is located, making it a desirable business venture for most U.S. cities.
Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Md., were all included on the list of 20 possible locations for Amazon’s “HQ2.” The other finalists, mostly cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest, include New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. Other cities that made bids in the D.C. area, including Baltimore and Richmond, did not make the short list of potential locations.
Amazon announced last year that its second headquarters would be equal in size to its current headquarters in Seattle, where it is the largest employer in the city with over 40,000 current employees. Amazon’s Head of Worldwide Economic Development Holly Sullivan noted Amazon plans to invest $5 billion in its HQ2 over a period of 10 to 15 years in a Jan. 18 news release. The company will consider the 20 finalists for the next few months before coming to a final decision.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Sullivan said in the news release. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
As part of its pitch to Amazon last October, the District presented four locations where the company could build its second headquarters, including sites around the Anacostia Riverfront, Union Station, Capitol Hill East near Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, and Howard University. Northern Virginia pitched sites including a location near Dulles International Airport and a location in the Crystal City area near Arlington, while a potential site in Montgomery County was a section of north Bethesda.
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has ties to the D.C. region. He owns The Washington Post and bought a $23 million house last year in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington.
When D.C. made its pitch to Amazon last October, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) highlighted the District’s recent accolades, including being named the “Coolest City” and the best “City for Women in Tech” by Forbes in 2014 and 2017, respectively.
“Here in D.C. we encourage and nurture innovation and creativity,” Bowser said in an Oct.19 video message to Amazon. “We believe in long-term growth that fosters strength and resilience, and we believe in making investments that inspire our leading doers, thinkers and change-makers.”
Bowser’s video marked the beginning of the District’s social media campaign, #obviouslyDC, which employed the concept of an Amazon Alexa device declaring that “obviously D.C.” was the prime choice for the next Amazon location.
Bowser praised Amazon’s decision to include D.C. in the top 20 finalists in a Jan. 18 news release, noting how the numerous jobs the company would create would benefit the city and its population.
“Making this list reaffirms what we already knew going into the bid process,” Bowser said. “Washington, D.C., is no longer a one-company government town; we are a leader in innovation and tech, brimming with top talent and endless opportunity.”
Cities have gone out of their way to offer major incentives for Amazon to build at their proposed sites. While Virginia and D.C. have not disclosed what tax incentives they offered the company, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) noted that his state offered Amazon $5 billion in tax incentives, the largest incentive package offered in Maryland’s history. Other finalists that offered incentives to Amazon included Newark, which proposed $7 billion worth of incentives, and Chicago, which proposed more than $2 billion.
“Maryland put forward an extremely strong group of sites that were all supported by the state with incentive packages totaling more than $5 billion, including road and transit improvements,” Hogan said in a Jan. 18 news release. “Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County.”
Jason Miller, chief executive of the Greater Washington Partnership, a group that brings together civic-minded business leaders to improve the Capitol region, noted Jan. 20 to The Washington Post that the region’s three finalists had strong bids. Still, problems regarding Metro funding resulting from a lack of unity among Maryland, D.C. and Virginia could give Amazon pause when considering the region’s proposals, according to Miller.
“There’s no question Amazon needs a well-functioning transit system, making the imperative for all three jurisdictions to act together on Metro to provide dedicated funding and real governance reform even more urgent,” Miller said.