It’s being called, “the trophy of the decade.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos set off what’s likely to be a bidding war that more resembles one to host a World Cup rather than a corporation’s second headquarters two weeks ago in announcing the search for the e-commerce mammoth’s new, second home.
Within hours, cities all over North America, including Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Kansas City, Sacramento, the Twin Cities, Baltimore, and San Diego, all went public with their interest in submitting proposals.
Heck, even New Mexico and its mere 2 million people spread across 121,000 square miles may be getting into the race.
Yielding all the power in this continent-wide sweepstakes, Amazon is reportedly telling potential hosts that revised laws and regulations may need to be passed in the jurisdiction of choice to earn the coveted grand prize.
Thus far, its list of minimum requirements include a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people within 45 minutes of an international airport, along with evidence of fiber optic internet connections and strong cellular phone service. Meanwhile it’s requesting data that quantifies everything from traffic congestion to skillset of the local workforce to ethnic diversity.
Ask any governor, mayor, or other public official and they’ll undoubtedly tell you anything Amazon requests could very well be worth it, for such an addition could radically transform a local economy for decades.
Take, for example, the 50,000 jobs Bezos says could accompany the addition.
Here in Cleveland, Ohio, the home of Marketplace Strategy, 50,000 new jobs would not only instantly make Amazon the largest employer in the area (currently the Cleveland Clinic, with roughly 32,000 employees in Cuyahoga County), but also would cause it to surpass Walmart as the largest employer in the state of Ohio.
(Editor’s note: Amazon.com is already the 53rd-largest employer in the state. It’s 6,000 employees are more than major retailers like Walgreens and Best Buy; large educational institutions like Ohio University, Kent State, and Miami University; as well as Fortune 500 corporations with headquarters in the state including Key Bank, Sherwin-Williams, Big Lots, Goodyear, and Owens Corning.)
In fact, according to a 2017 list compiled by 24/7 Wall St., an injection of 50,000 new employees would make Amazon the largest employer in 40 states, including Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, and Arizona.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see how significant of a prize the $5 billion project could be for any city, state, and region, with likely massive and long-term effects on real estate, housing, education, culture, and nearly every other facet of an area’s prosperity.
Bezos already goes by a lot of titles – CEO, entrepreneur, billionaire – but with this decision (and the monumental prize it comes with) ultimately in his hands, he can rightfully also be branded the title of ‘kingmaker.’