Official Announcement Draws Near On Amazon's HQ2 Decision
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
So if you're on the market for a new home, why settle on just one if you can afford two? That's what Amazon has done. The company this morning made a much, much anticipated announcement about adding new headquarters. Amazon had gotten offers for more than 200 places but, in the end, looks like they couldn't get everything out of one location. They've settled on two. One new base will be in Long Island City in New York, and one will be in Crystal City, Va., just outside Washington, D.C.
And NPR's Alina Selyukh has been following all of this. Hi, Alina.
ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Good morning.
GREENE: So why divide this new headquarters?
SELYUKH: So the company says the two locations give them more access to top talent. That's the explanation that they've come up with. And this is a bit anticlimactic since, as you're describing, the process lasted over a year. It had this Olympic-style bidding vibe.
SELYUKH: All of these communities across the U.S. and Canada came through. But, you know, this places Amazon in the heart of both the financial and the political capitals of this country. And these are areas with a lot of wealth and already a lot of high-paying jobs, including at other tech companies - so plenty of talent for Amazon to steal, which was - I've heard one of the concerns before that they were worried about attracting 50,000 highly skilled tech folks in a really quick timeline - 10 to 15 years.
GREENE: All right, so that's what Amazon is getting. What are these cities getting? Why were they so eager to court the company?
SELYUKH: So the big thing was 50,000 jobs, which now Amazon says will pay an average of more than $150,000 a year. Now, this will be split, but it's still a big injection of 25,000 tech jobs, which is kind of notable for the specific neighborhoods in Queens and Arlington even if it's not such a huge influx for the overall metro areas. And we don't know which divisions are going to come to these areas. Both New York and D.C. already have a considerable Amazon presence. In New York, they've got folks in fashion and folks in advertising. And in Virginia, they got cloud work and defense contractors. But it could be anything further down the road.
And one other announcement I should point out is Amazon said that they're also putting an operations hub in Nashville sort of as a consolation prize to this one city that did not get the HQ2 but is getting more than 5,000 jobs.
GREENE: And maybe also them trying to say, like, it's not all about being on the coast; we're going to have some new headquarters...
SELYUKH: They are calling it...
GREENE: ...In the center of the country.
SELYUKH: ...The East Coast operations hub, so there is that.
GREENE: OK, so, I mean, you had New York. You had D.C. among all these cities that were just begging Amazon to come - you know, city leaders and regional leaders. What about residents and people? Are they all going to be excited by this?
SELYUKH: So far we're getting a fair amount of kind of confusion and criticisms already and concerns about the impact on traffic and housing prices, which are already a challenge in both metro areas. And one really entertaining thing has been to watch is, you know, when Amazon made this announcement, they said they're coming to Long Island City, N.Y., and a place called National Landing in Virginia. And everyone around is like, what? What? What is National Landing?
Well, it appears that the - Amazon is sort of rebranding Crystal City. It's not been a particularly popular place. And it's kind of fascinating to watch how that's developing. And another big question is how much incentives these big locations are giving to Amazon. Politicians locally have already been raising red flags. Amazon is saying 1.5 billion in incentives is coming from New York. Almost 600 million is coming from Arlington, and that I anticipate is going to be a really big part of the conversation going forward.
GREENE: All right, so a lot to follow as we see what will be next after this big announcement. We should say that Amazon is a sponsor of NPR - one thing that we should note for our listeners. NPR's Alina Selyukh has been following all of this. Thanks, Alina.
SELYUKH: Thank you.
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