Amazon wants a new headquarters – and Minnesota leaders are already making their pitch

Will the Twin Cities try to lure Amazon to Minnesota?
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Amazon wants another headquarters.

Not a dingy little secondary office. A brand new, multimillion-square-foot, job-creating second headquarters, to match its current HQ in Seattle. 

Amazon just needs a location. So it's asking states and cities across North America to put together their best pitch for why their community would be the best fit for Amazon and its gajillion dollars.

The company is forecasting 50,000 full-time employees over the next decade-plus at this new HQ2 (which would make it the biggest employer in Minnesota, by the way), with an average salary north of $100,000.

Plus there'd be $5 billion in capital expenditures (like building costs). And the company says its presence in Seattle has generated billions of dollars in recent years.

So what about the Twin Cities?

As a major metro market with more than 3 million people, a business environment that supports 18 Fortune 500 companies, a nearby airport that handles lots of traffic, and generally happy, healthy people with easy access to parks, the Twin Cities area has a decent case to make.

Paul Thissen, a DFL state representative from Minneapolis who is running for governor, already made a pitch. In a news release, he said the St Paul Ford plant property or Arden Hills armory site might be options.

He's calling on other lawmakers with the jobs committees to get together asap to talk about what they can do to get Amazon here.

Gov. Mark Dayton in an email statement showed some enthusiasm for the project, and directed the state's economics commissioner, Shantera Hardy, to work with other partners on a proposal for Amazon.

Dayton will meet with Hardy Friday to "prepare a compelling proposal" for Amazon.

Minneapolis and St. Paul officials weigh in

The cities themselves are still grappling with the news – they found out about Amazon's ambitions Thursday morning just like everybody else.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (and also a gubernatorial candidate) in an email statement said the region is "situated perfectly to attract technology and innovation jobs."

"Minnesota is home to a highly-skilled workforce, desirable public amenities, nationally recognized parks and trails, and top-notch colleges and universities," he said. "In the City of Saint Paul alone, we have numerous opportunities for a company like Amazon to build a campus that meets its needs. I look forward to engaging with partners throughout the region to compete for the 50,000 jobs Amazon will create with its new headquarters.”

A spokesperson for the City of Minneapolis told GoMN the city is "working on this," but noted it's very early and they don't have anything else to share at the moment.

Amazon's familiar with the area. It's got a tech office in downtown Minneapolis, and that big fulfillment center in Shakopee, and the governor said that's allowed Amazon to see "the benefits of Minnesota’s well-educated and world-class workforce."

But the Twin Cities and Minnesota will have some serious competition. 

The mayor's office in Los Angeles already said they'll be vying for the new Amazon HQ, the LA Times reports, and other large cities are sure to follow suit. 

What Amazon is looking for

Amazon wants interested parties to submit this proposal form by Oct. 19. And they've got some specific preferences:

  • Metro areas with more than 1 million people.
  • A "stable and business-friendly environment."
  • Urban or suburban is fine, but strong technical talent needs to be available.
  • Communities also need to think "big" and "creatively" about their space suggestion.
  • Within 30 miles of a population center, and within 45 minutes driving time of an airport.
  • Mass transit at the site is preferable, with lots of roads for easy access.
  • The space needs to be 500,000 square feet to start – with the space to grow to 8 million square feet.
  • There's a timeline here, so the site needs to be ready to build on, or able to be retrofitted for a 2019 opening.
  • Fiber connectivity and good cell service is a must.

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