Amazon is looking to settle into a big city, bringing jobs and money, which would be a perfect fit for Montgomery County, Alabama.
Amazon’s reach touches millions every day. Whether you are ordering something from the tech giant’s website, or shopping at Whole Foods, every dollar you spend is making Amazon richer. The founder of Amazon, Jeffrey Bezos, is also the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $113.5 billion. Nonetheless, recent chatter about Amazon is not about the founder, but rather where they are going to open up their new headquarters.
When Amazon demonstrated their interest in opening a new headquarters, known as HQ2, roughly 238 cities, regions and districts applied to bring Amazon’s headquarters to their town. Many of these cities used tax breaks, key location and public support to gain leverage.
Most recently, Amazon has released a list of 20 cities in the United States and Canada that have become finalists in the process. Major cities such as Atlanta and Chicago made the cut, as did Raleigh in North Carolina, Montgomery County in Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Fierce competition is likely to stem out of this bidding process, as Montgomery County and northern Virginia are just a short distance away from each other, as is Washington, D.C. Among the most interesting bids was from Newark, New Jersey, where city executives have offered up to $7 billion in tax incentives for the tech giant. Although it is a significant sum, it is unlikely that just a monetary incentive will give the city a leg up.
Amazon has listed some requirements for HQ2. Clearly stated on their website, “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle Headquarters.” They are looking for a metropolitan area with more than one million people, a stable and business-friendly environment and communities with the ability to attract and retain talent. Additionally, Amazon is looking for a place where its employees can travel to work via bicycle, public transportation or by foot. Based on their requirements, it seems as if Amazon is looking for a city that reflects its corporate culture.
Why are cities and local governments scrambling to get Amazon’s headquarters in their district? It is like hosting an Olympic Games without having to build the infrastructure. Amazon’s move will bring $5 billion in value to the city through investments. Additionally, over 50,000 high-paying jobs will need to be filled by talented individuals. Ideally, these people will reside in the same area, where they will pay taxes, thus boosting the local economy. Housing will need to be constructed and new infrastructure will go up, creating new jobs and increasing tax revenue.
Amazon’s current headquarters is in Seattle, Washington. It employs well over 40,000 people and has an economic impact well in the billions. If the plan goes accordingly, then the economic impact of HQ2 is well worth the effort.
Although I am extremely biased, I think Montgomery County would be one of the best places for HQ2 to be built. The area has everything that Amazon is looking for. Top tier universities are not too far, so skilled employees would not be a problem. Additionally, some of the most efficient public transportation systems are already in place. Employees can take the metro or bus to work. There are natural resources within a half-hour drive, and the nation’s capital is within 12 miles. Three airports are within 45 minutes of central Montgomery Country, which makes business travel easy.
It would be a mistake to overlook one of the greatest counties in the United States.