AMA­ZON CON­SID­ERS NEW YORK, VIR­GINIA AMID RE­PORTS OF HQ SPLIT

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Af­ter a year­long search for a sec­ond home, Ama­zon is now re­port­edly look­ing to build of­fices in two cities in­stead of one, a sur­prise move that could still have a ma­jor im­pact on the com­mu­ni­ties it ul­ti­mately se­lects.

Vir­ginia of­fi­cials and some state law­mak­ers were re­cently briefed by the head of the state’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fice that Ama­zon was con­sid­er­ing split­ting up its sec­ond head­quar­ters, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

Of­fi­cials in Vir­ginia be­lieve there’s a strong like­li­hood Ama­zon will pick Crys­tal City in north­ern Vir­ginia as one of its sites, but the com­pany has not said any­thing de­fin­i­tive, ac­cord­ing to the per­son, who was not au­tho­rized to speak on the record.

“They’re a real se­cre­tive com­pany,” the per­son said.

One of the other ar­eas the on­line re­tail gi­ant is con­sid­er­ing is New York’s Long Is­land City, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­iar with the talks. Across the East River from mid­town Man­hat­tan, Long Is­land City is a long­time in­dus­trial and trans­porta­tion hub that has be­come a fast-grow­ing neigh­bor­hood of river­front high-rises and re­de­vel­oped ware­houses, with an en­dur­ing in­dus­trial foothold and bur­geon­ing arts and tech scenes.

Ama­zon has been tight-lipped about the process and de­clined to com­ment on the lat­est news. There’s been in­tense com­pe­ti­tion to win over the com­pany, with some throw­ing around bil­lions of dol­lars in tax in­cen­tives. Ama­zon kicked off its hunt for a sec­ond head­quar­ters in Septem­ber 2017, ini­tially re­ceiv­ing 238 pro­pos­als be­fore nar­row­ing the list to 20 in Jan­uary.

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo met two weeks ago with Ama­zon of­fi­cials in his New York City of­fices, ac­cord­ing to the source, who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the ne­go­ti­a­tions and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. Cuomo of­fered to travel to Ama­zon’s Seat­tle home­town to con­tinue talks, the source said.

On Tues­day, Cuomo told re­porters that Ama­zon is look­ing at Long Is­land City, but didn’t say if it was a fi­nal­ist. He said win­ning over Ama­zon would give an eco­nomic boost to the en­tire state, and joked that he was will­ing to change his name to “Ama­zon Cuomo” to lure the com­pany.

An es­ti­mated 135,000 or more peo­ple live in Long Is­land City and neigh­bor­ing Sun­ny­side and Wood­side, and the me­dian house­hold makes about $63,500 a year, a bit higher than the city­wide me­dian, ac­cord­ing to New York Uni­ver­sity’s Fur­man Cen­ter hous­ing and ur­ban pol­icy think tank. About 40 per­cent of peo­ple over 25 in the Long Is­land City area have a bach­e­lor’s or higher de­gree, slightly above the city­wide rate, the Fur­man Cen­ter’s data shows.

The New York Times re­ported that Ama­zon is fi­nal­iz­ing deals to lo­cate to Long Is­land City and the Crys­tal City sec­tion of Ar­ling­ton, Vir­ginia, just out­side Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The Wall Street Jour­nal, which first re­ported on the pos­si­ble plan to split the head­quar­ters be­tween two cities, said Dal­las is also still a con­tender. Both news­pa­pers cited un­named peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process.

A spokesman for the Dal­las Re­gional Cham­ber de­clined to com­ment.

Long Is­land City and Crys­tal City would meet Ama­zon’s re­quire­ments for a new lo­cale: Both are near met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas with more than a mil­lion peo­ple, have nearby in­ter­na­tional air­ports, di­rect ac­cess to mass tran­sit and have room for the com­pany to ex­pand.

Se­lect­ing those ar­eas would bring more jobs to places that al­ready have plenty. Jed Kolko, the chief econ­o­mist at job site In­deed, said that choos­ing New York and the D.C. area would “be a much less rad­i­cal move than many imag­ined” and an­other ex­am­ple of “rich places get­ting richer.”

The com­pany had orig­i­nally promised to bring 50,000 new high-pay­ing jobs to one lo­ca­tion, which founder and CEO Jeff Be­zos said would be

“a full equal” to its Seat­tle home base. Ama­zon may now split those jobs equally be­tween two lo­ca­tions, The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported, with each get­ting 25,000.

Other lo­ca­tions that were on Ama­zon’s list of 20 ei­ther de­clined to com­ment or said they haven’t heard from the on­line re­tailer.

Jay Ash, the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment chief in Mas­sachusetts, said Tues­day that he’s had “no re­cent con­tact” with Ama­zon about a head­quar­ters in Bos­ton, but his of­fice is still talk­ing with the com­pany about other op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ear­lier this year, Ama­zon un­veiled plans for an of­fice ex­pan­sion in Bos­ton’s Sea­port District, promis­ing 2,000 new tech­nol­ogy jobs by 2021 in fields in­clud­ing ma­chine learn­ing and ro­bot­ics.

Ama­zon has said it could spend more than $5 bil­lion on the new head­quar­ters over the next 17 years, about match­ing the size of its cur­rent home in Seat­tle, which has 33 build­ings, 23 restau­rants and 40,000 em­ploy­ees.

The com­pany al­ready em­ploys 600,000. That’s ex­pected to in­crease as it builds more ware­houses across the coun­try to keep up with on­line or­ders. Ama­zon re­cently an­nounced that it would pay all its work­ers at least $15 an hour, but the em­ploy­ees at its sec­ond head­quar­ters will be paid a lot more — an av­er­age of more than $100,000 a year.

Ear­lier this month, Be­zos said dur­ing an on-stage in­ter­view in New York that the fi­nal de­ci­sion will come down to in­tu­ition.

“You im­merse your­self in that data, but then you make that de­ci­sion with your heart,” he said.

Im­age: An­drew Bur­ton

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