The waterfront of Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York, was one of two sites selected by Amazon for its new headquarters (Don EMMERT)
Washington (AFP) – Amazon’s “second headquarters” is being split between New York City and the Washington suburbs, the US tech giant announced Tuesday, capping a yearlong contest that saw dozens of cities fight it out for a promised $5 billion investment and 50,000 expected jobs.
The chosen locations are Long Island City neighborhood in the New York borough of Queens, across the East River from Manhattan, and the Crystal City section of Arlington in Northern Virginia, across the Potomac from the US capital.
“These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come,” Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
These will be new headquarters with equivalent status to Amazon’s home in Seattle, in the northwestern US state of Washington.
According to an Amazon statement, the company will receive “performance-based direct incentives of $1.525 billion” over the next decade from New York based on creating 25,000 jobs in Long Island City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called New York’s selection “a giant step” in the city’s development.
“New Yorkers will get tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and Amazon will get the best talent anywhere in the world,” he said.
– Big win, or not? –
Virginia will offer $550 million in incentives over 12 years based on a similar number of job creations, contingent on adding the forecasted number of “high-paying jobs,” and Amazon will get another $23 million from Arlington, where the company intends to create an entire new neighborhood called National Landing.
“This is a big win for Virginia — I’m proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the Commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,” said the state’s governor, Ralph Northam.
Amazon said it would create a new logistical “center of excellence” for “fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities” in Nashville, Tennessee, creating some 5,000 jobs.
The US capital area was long seen as a front-runner, in part because Bezos already has a residence in the city and owns the Washington Post newspaper.
Bezos, the world’s richest individual, also owns residences in New York and other cities.
The competition had been derided in some quarters as a “Hunger Games” contest pitting cities against each other, with rival bidders piling up offers of incentives for one of the largest and most successful global corporations.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, elected to Congress from a district that includes part of Queens, said it was unclear if the community would benefit from the massive corporate move.
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Monday.
– ‘Sheer size and scale’ –
Amazon’s statement said it would create four million square feet (370,000 square meters) of office space in New York, with an option to double that, and that the overall investment would boost tax revenue by some $10 billion over 20 years.
In Virginia, Amazon said it would invest $195 million in infrastructure improvements including in mass transit, and a pedestrian bridge to the adjacent Reagan National Airport.
Amazon said it expected its investment would boost tax revenue for Virginia by some $3.2 billion over the next 20 years.
Neil Saunders of the research firm GlobalData said the new locations make sense for Amazon as it seeks proximity to political power, fashion and technology talent.
Saunders said that “the sheer size and scale of Amazon and its interest across many areas of technology, retail, and various consumer services” suggests a need for multiple locations.
The analyst added that the split helps Amazon avoid a problem of too much growth or congestion in one location, noting that that had caused problems in Seattle.
“Being able to balance growth across numerous cities will help alleviate such issues,” he said.
Crystal City is already home of the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group representing thousands of large and small tech firms, and a technology incubator called 1776. It is also a short distance to the Pentagon.
Started in the 1990s, Amazon has seen spectacular growth and earlier this year saw its valuation briefly hit $1 trillion before falling back.
In addition to its online retail operations in dozens of countries, Amazon is a major cloud computing firm and offers streaming video and music, hardware using its Alexa digital assistant and owns the Whole Foods grocery chain.
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