Amazon.com Inc is searching for a site for a major corporate office in the US, a development expected to house as many as 50,000 people and to be equal in size to its current Seattle headquarters.
The cost of what Amazon is billing as its “second company headquarters in North America" is expected to top US$5bil (RM21.04bil) over the next 15 to 17 years, the company said.
Amazon is now asking local and state governments to pitch for its business, with the promise of boosting the local economy.
Any new development by Amazon would have a major impact on the surrounding community. The company is one of the biggest employers in Seattle, on course to have 10 million square feet (929,000 square meters) of office space, more than 15% of the city’s inventory.
“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.”
The e-commerce giant recently moved into a new 500-foot-tall office tower in Seattle, complete with 100-foot-tall orbs – Amazon calls them Biospheres – which will host more than 300 plant species from around the world when they open in 2018.
Cities and local governments will be clamouring to offer lucrative incentives in order to entice Amazon to pitch its new tent. In 2001 Boeing decided to move its headquarters out of Seattle for Chicago, after it was promised a series of tax breaks and incentives worth up to US$60mil (RM252.57mil) – for just 500 employees.
Amazon’s Seattle office houses over 40,000, and many of the jobs for Amazon’s second home will be new hires, according to Thursday’s statement. Incentives the company is looking for include tax credits or exemptions, relocation grants and fee reductions.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is expanding rapidly and also has been opening fulfilment centres across the US and the globe as it broadens its offerings from books and toys to groceries. On Wednesday, the company announced the first such facility for New York, one of 21 new US warehouses announced so far this year that will employ more than 25,000 people.
Last month, Amazon concluded a US$13.7bil (RM57.67bil) deal to buy Whole Foods, accelerating its push into groceries and brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon already operates several college campus locations and has plans to build convenience stores.
Staff at the new office are predicted to earn an average annual salary of over US$100,000 (RM420,950). The first phase of the development, scheduled for 2019, will require 500,000 square feet, while the total requirement could reach 8,000,000 square feet beyond 2027.
Amazon will let staff in its existing Seattle headquarters move to the new development, according the statement. According to its website for regions to pitch for the new site, Amazon is looking for a location that can provide staff for “software development and related fields.” — Bloomberg