November 7, 2018

Amazon’s second (and third) head quarters may be headed for D.C. and New York areas


The orange wave moves eastward

Amazon Plans to Split . . . ”

The first half of this New York Times headline inspires great confidence. Split up as the result of some anti-trust legislation? Make like a banana and split?

But read on, and you’ll learn that “Amazon Plans to Split HQ2 in Two Locations”. As Karen Weise and J. David Goodman report in the Times article about Amazon’s much-talked-about second headquarters:

After conducting a yearlong search for a second home, Amazon has switched gears and is now finalizing plans to have a total of 50,000 employees in two locations, according to people familiar with the decision-making process.

The company is nearing a deal to move to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, according to two of the people briefed on the discussions. Amazon is also close to a deal to move to the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va., a Washington suburb, one of the people said. Amazon already has more employees in those two areas than anywhere else outside of Seattle, its home base, and the Bay Area.

Among the attendant bummers in this situation are the increased coziness between Amazon and the federal government, the fact that New York governor –Andrew “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes” Cuomo–basically doesn’t work for his constituents anymore, and a bunch of cities that probably could have used an economic boom of this sort won’t be getting it.

But most importantly, it’s clear that an Amazon headquarters in your town won’t usher in the boom that the cities falling over themselves to impress the company have dreamed of. As we noted back when there was a longlist of 20 hopeful cities, Amazon will be enjoying unheard of tax breaks rather than pumping money back into its new neighborhoods for better schools, affordable housing, etc. etc.

So while a certain class of educated tech worker in New York in D.C. may benefit from increased job opportunities, our cities stand to lose out in the deal.

Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.