You’ve likely already heard about Amazon’s plans for a second headquarters. It needs more space than Seattle can provide, and cities around the nation have been scrambling, groveling, and putting forth their best effort into assembling an eye-catching proposal for the tech giant. Is Minnesota a likely candidate? It has made a few lists of potentials, though the Twin Cities’ business climate isn’t necessarily the friendliest (i.e. there won’t be any massive incentives packages from this state). Governor Dayton has made it clear that his committee will not be bending over backwards to entice the move, with many pointing to the state’s relationships with homegrown Target and Best Buy, a couple of Amazon’s largest competitors, as reason. The straight-forward approach that was reported in this Pioneer Press article, hopes to give Amazon enough enticing information to move forward in the process, at which point further negotiations could be had around incentives.
Some other cities have taken a different approach, as described in this CNN article. From attempting to send a cactus, to offers of renaming an entire city “Amazon”, to potentially $5B in tax breaks, other cities truly are bending over backwards to try to catch the right people’s attention. The NY Times took a shot at determining where the next headquarters would be located, and its best guess is Denver, CO. Minnesota was eliminated early on in the Times’ fictitious process due to slower job growth over the last decade.
The benefits of playing host to HQ2 are a $5B injection into the local economy, as well as a whopping 50,000 additional jobs. There’s also the potential for further development, if Amazon continues to dominate, finding the need to further expand, as it has in Seattle. However, many warn that playing host comes at a huge cost. The added workforce would clog local transportation, dramatically increase rents and overall housing costs, and potentially negatively impact the local small business climate. The workforce would bring family members, requiring education and generally utilizing local amenities. It’s adding a LOT of bodies. All of these things have befallen Seattle, as detailed in this Curbed article as a warning to those cities bidding for HQ2. The new host’s major leg-up is that they have Seattle’s example to study. Preparation is paramount; legislation needs to be passed early-on to improve infrastructure, anticipating the influx of future needs. With the increases in housing costs and the shortage of affordable housing, homelessness has unfortunately become an issue for Seattle. Minnesota of course has its own battle with a shortage of affordable housing and resulting increase in homelessness, so much would need to be done in that area.
We are still at the beginning stages of the process, so we’ll see who moves forward at some point soon. One thing’s for sure, though. The Twin Cities is an attractive metro area, and it will continue to grow in appeal and therefore population. If you’d like to plant your flag in the ground, let me know: 952-258-3100 or email.
Photo credit: Renee Amundson