Seattle seeks a “refresh” with Amazon in letter signed by legislators, city council members and other local leaders

When Amazon’s search for a second headquarters (HQ2) outside Seattle was announced, we wrote that while the announcement initially launched a wave of speculation about what city would land the new headquarters,

The speculation, however, is less interesting than the introspection occurring in Washington…

Ideally, Amazon’s decision will help focus debate on how Washington can advance opportunity and job creation…Amazon has reminded the state that, with all the advantages Washington and metro Seattle provide, we still must compete.

The Seattle Times reports that some Seattle leaders are responding to concerns that the city sends business the wrong message.

A letter signed by a majority of Seattle City Council members as well as some state legislators, port commissioners and education officials, says to the extent the company’s headquarters decision “was based on Amazon feeling unwelcome in Seattle, or not being included in some of our regional decisions, we would like to hit the refresh button.”

The letter is worth reading. It suggests formation of a “joint task force” to address transportation, freight mobility, public safety, the gig economy” and public education.

There’s scant mentionof tax and regulatory concerns that might influence Amazon’s thinking, other than this.

Seattle has received widespread attention for its first-in-the-nation law allowing “for hire” drivers (think Uber and Lyft) to unionize. The city also has adopted an income tax and council members have proposed a new tax on high-grossing businesses.

The Times adds,

Seattle itself isn’t bidding to host Amazon’s second headquarters, but instead is lending its support to a joint proposal by King County and Snohomish County that suggest the company use any of a range of sites, from Everett to Bellevue and Tukwila. 

GeekWire also reports on the city’s overture. We wrote previously about the benefits of the regional response to the HQ2 competition.

A ‘refresh’ conversation on what makes a good business climate just might be beneficial.