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Memphis to make bid for new Amazon headquarters

SEATTLE — Amazon has opened the search for a second headquarters, and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says the Bluff City wants to be the company's second home.

Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday that the new headquarters will be "a full equal'' to its Seattle counterpart with as many as 50,000 jobs. Amazon promises to spend more than $5 billion on whatever site it chooses in North America.

Strickland tweeted Thursday morning, "We're on it. We'll absolutely make a bid. The @CityofMemphis has so much to offer!" after the news of the second headquarters was announced.

Doug McGowen, chief operating officer for the city of Memphis, said the city has plenty to pitch to Amazon, including "unparalleled logistics access" with a busy airport and access to road, rail and river transport, and a "quality of life and affordability that is unmatched anywhere else in the country."

He said industrial parks in the southeast part of the city can accommodate several million square feet of development, and are build-ready and connected to utilities. "They're precisely what Amazon needs," he said.

Amazon's request for proposals says the company prefers a metropolitan area with at least 1 million people and access to airport and major highways. The company would prefer an urban or downtown location similar to the company's 8.1 million-square-foot, 33-building Seattle campus.

"It's as if they wrote it with Memphis and Shelby County in mind," McGowen said.

The announcement is certain to create a scramble among cities and states vying to make the short list. The company estimates that investments in Seattle between 2010 and 2016 added $38 billion to the city's economy.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, for instance, says her city is also in the race to land Amazon.

 

There are 24 restaurants and cafes within Amazon's Seattle campus alone, where more than 20,000 people are employed. The increase in personal income around the Seattle headquarters for people not employed by Amazon increased by about $17 billion due to direct investments, according to the company.

The company gave few hints about where it would land, but did say it is looking at metropolitan areas with populations of more than a million that have the potential to attract top technical talent.

Amazon will hire thousands of new workers, but also said that people working at its Seattle headquarters will have the option of seeking a spot at the new site.

Reid Dulberger is the President and CEO of EDGE, he works to bring companies to Memphis.

He said Amazon was not shy about laying out some of their wish list incentives.

"Not every incentive in every proposal but it's everything from free land, relocation assistance for employees, tax breaks on the assets to be constructed, utility incentives, it is the entire gamut," he explained.

Phil Trenary, President and CEO of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce says Memphis is the place to be. Our location, our logistics are unlike any other and tough to beat.

"What everyone should ask is why weren't they here already? There is no better location for a major logistics company like that so we're glad we have the opportunity to bid," explained Trenary.

A group of city and county leaders will now get together to figure out how best to market Memphis.

The RFP is due on October 19.

Cities and states are being advised by Amazon.com Inc. to visit www.amazon.com/amazonHQ2 for more information.