This week saw brief consternation about the various regional efforts to convince Amazon to put its second headquarters in Washington. We wrote about some of those bids here.
First, comments made by Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke at the GeekWire Summit were interpreted to mean that the company would not consider the Pacific Northwest for HQ2.
The company’s CEO of Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilke said at the 2017 GeekWire Summit that Amazon now has 50,000 people in Seattle — the same amount it could eventually hire at HQ2. Another 6,000 jobs are coming, and Amazon is gearing up to occupy 2 million more square feet of office space in its hometown.
But anyone who lives here, or is looking for office space, knows Seattle is filling up. The move to HQ2 is about finding some more room to breath — Amazon said it could occupy as much as 8 million square feet in whichever city it chooses — and luring the best talent.
“Not everybody wants to live in the Northwest,” said Wilke, who grew up in Pittsburgh. “It’s been terrific for me and my family, but I think we may find another location allows us to recruit a different collection of employees.”
It’s over, Amazon says Seattle area won’t win HQ2, headlined a KUOW story.
But Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer CEO, Jeff Wilke, says our region has no chance: Amazon is looking for something else.
“We want another place where we can also grow,” Wilke told the Geekwire Summit.
Then, Amazon clarified.
On Wednesday, a company spokesperson insisted Wilke’s comments did not signal that the Northwest wouldn’t land the second headquarters location.
“We will give serious consideration to every HQ2 proposal we receive from across North America, including from communities across the Pacific Northwest,” Amazon said in a statement emailed to KING 5.
When asked why there was a need to issue a clarification, the spokesperson added: “some reporters have inferred that cities in the PNW will not be considered, and this is not correct.”
Most of the cities in the region recognize landing the second headquarters close to the current headquarters is a long shot, as we wrote Monday. And the brief confusion midweek doesn’t really change anything, other than give local political and business leaders an opportunity to reinforce their desire to compete.
And that’s a good thing.
The News Tribune reports on local response in Tacoma.
Does this change anything for Tacoma’s pitch? Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the City of Destiny still has a chance.
“There’s a reason the Puget Sound is the fastest-growing region in the nation,” she said Wednesday. “People want to live here. The quality of life is unparallelled. We have a really nice lifestyle here.”
Many officials say that even if the area doesn’t snag Amazon, forming a proposal won’t hurt. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, said last week that building a case for Tacoma helps future efforts.
“I think this helps our community to build the muscles and develop the playbook we need to keep jobs and grow more jobs down the road,” Kilmer said.
The Puget Sound Business Journal interviews Seattle venture capitalist Matt McIlwain, a Madrona Venture Group managing director, who explains the importance of being a competitor. Here’s the Q&A:
Q. Many Washington cities are participating in the RFP. Is that a waste of time?
A. It’s absolutely a great use of the time for the city of Seattle itself and different cities in Washington state to make the case for why having Amazon invest more in their cities is worthwhile. I’m not entirely sure the outcome will be an HQ2, but from every one of those cities I keep hearing business community, public policy leaders and even civic and community leaders coming together in a way they haven’t in a long time. It’s an opportunity to create a better dialogue with Amazon and be strategic about how to successfully grow as communities.
As we wrote earlier, the speculation about the next HQ2 is interesting, but it’s the regional introspection – addressing the region’s competitive challenges, including public policy – that’s important.