The Kansas City area offered one of 238 proposals to Amazon hoping to be named the location for the tech giant’s second headquarters. Kansas City’s bistate proposal will compete with a St. Louis proposal, which will compete with a Missouri proposal that envisions headquarters in both Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis. All three proposals face steep competition from more than 230 others.
Specific details of proposals are under wraps, because those vying for HQ2 were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Amazon says the winning site will see a $5 billion investment in the second headquarters and host 50,000 employees. Local officials are rolling out the red carpet.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said the Amazon headquarters is the opportunity of a generation.
“We want to create with Amazon the most prosperous and livable region in North America, right here in the heart of it. The Kansas City region recognizes the importance of redefining the workforce of the future through top notch education. We are building Amazon’s next generation of pioneers to be both skilled and empowered and we’re excited to redefine the next generation of talent with Amazon,” he said in a statement.
KCMO Mayor Sly James wrote 1,000 five-star reviews on the Amazon website hoping to catch the tech giant’s eye.
The winner of the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes will likely be asked to fork over millions in incentives. Not everyone is certain that bidding for the project is worth that. For example, San Jose, California, Mayor wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal saying he wouldn’t offer a penny in incentives to the corporate giant.
Paul Roberts explained for Politico what the winners can expect should Amazon choose their site. He writes that while people in Seattle, home of Amazon’s original headquarters, are disappointed to be losing out on some of the giant’s future growth, many are relieved.
“Most would acknowledge the extraordinary prosperity that Amazon has brought to Seattle since Jeff Bezos and his startup arrived in 1994,” Roberts writes. “But they are also keenly aware of the costs, not least the nation’s fastest-rising housing prices, appalling traffic and a painful erosion of urban identity.”
Roberts also asks which came first? Seattle’s tech boom or Amazon’s explosive growth. A new headquarters somewhere else might not garner the same results.
“Put another way, it may be that Seattle was actually the best thing that happened to Amazon,” Roberts writes. “…Most would-be host cities surely know they can’t expect a full repeat of Seattle’s Amazon miracle.”
That miracle has been responsible for an increase in income inequality in Seattle. He writes that hostility between Amazon and its employees is growing in that community, too. One television commentator called Amazon a “cancer.”
Roberts writes that Amazon’s growth helped fuel a progressive culture tide in Seattle, stymying some of the business-friendly policies that helped Seattle’s business community thrive. From $15 minimum wage proposals to a city council member recommending the nationalization of Boeing, Amazon’s young tech workers packed their politics when they moved to Seattle.
“No doubt, most cities bidding for HQ2 believe themselves capable of handling the housing costs and the traffic. But they may be less prepared for the fact that they would also be importing a culture,” he concludes.
Kansas City, St. Louis, and the state of Missouri have all entered the great Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, but winning may not be all it’s cracked up to be.