And Austin wants the second Amazon headquarters.
City leaders officially submitted Austin’s bid to Amazon on Wednesday, a day before the deadline.
On Sept. 7, Amazon announced the Seattle-based tech giant was looking for a second North American headquarters, Amazon HQ2. The company expects to invest more than $5 billion in construction for the second headquarters and it plans to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.
Amazon then asked cities to submit bids for the project.
Austin Texas Region Bid for @amazon HQ2 submitted.
— Austin Chamber (@AustinChamber) October 18, 2017
And since then Amazon has seen an outpouring of interest. Mayors have submitted videos. Members of Congress have written letters. And Tucson, Arizona even sent a 21-foot Saguaro cactus to Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle with a note “Amazon Can Grow in Arizona,” which the company politely declined, according to a story in Geekwire.
Amazon expects its HQ2 to “be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, and CEO said in a news statement.
Amazon’s criteria for choosing the second headquarters includes a metropolitan area with more than one million people, a stable business-friendly environment, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent and communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
Austin meets all that criteria.
Moody’s Analytics crunched the data and came up with Austin as its first place contender for Amazon HQ2. It cited Austin’s reputation as a tech hub and home to Dell, the largest Samsung facility outside South Korea, the second biggest Apple facility and a large IBM campus.
“Complementing these large IT employers are smaller IT companies that have either started in Austin or relocated,” according to Moody’s Analytics. Austin also has an educated workforce with 43 percent of its workers have completed college or graduate training, compared to about 30 percent nationally. It also cites the strength of the University of Texas at Austin’s Computer Science Department.
“Austin has a much lower cost of living than places such as Silicon Valley,” Moody’s Analytics reports. “Even though house prices have been rising and are high for Texas or the South, they are well below those in California or the Northeast. Anecdotally the quality of life is high, and many want to live in the “Silicon Hills.” Further, being in Texas, Austin resides in a business-friendly state that seeks to attract and keep companies. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, which is headquartered in Austin, is another factor in the metro area’s favor.”
In addition, Austin has good transportation facilities and is the Central Time zone with an international airport that makes it easy to travel nationally and internationally.
In the Moody’s Analytics report, Atlanta came in second followed by Philadelphia, Rochester, New York, and Pittsburgh.
Amazon launched operations in Texas in 2013 and already has a big presence here with humongous warehouse fulfillment centers located in Schertz and San Marcos in the Austin to San Antonio corridor. Amazon has other centers in Coppell, Haslet, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Katy. It has more than 10,000 employees in those centers.
Amazon also has a software development center in Austin.
In addition, Bezos owns Blue Origin, a privately-held aerospace company based in Kent, Washington that has a suborbital launch facility located in West Texas, near the town of Van Horn.
Another factor in Texas’ favor is its robust renewable energy market, particularly its wind farms in West Texas. On Wednesday, Bezos tweeted a picture of himself smashing a bottle to christen the company’s largest wind farm in Synder, Texas. Bezos is standing on top of the wind turbine in the video.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 19, 2017
Amazon is also looking for an urban or downtown campus with a similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus.
“Amazon HQ2 will be a complete headquarters for Amazon – not a satellite office,” according to the company. “Amazon expects to hire new teams and executives in HQ2 and will also let existing senior leaders across the company decide whether to locate their teams in HQ1, HQ2 or both.”
Dallas and Houston plan to submit bids for Amazon HQ2. San Antonio’s city leaders already stated publicly that San Antonio would not be bidding for the project.
Amazon is expected to announce the new headquarters site in 2018.