Amazon Headquarters RFP a Futile Exercise for Nearly All Applicants

NEWS ANALYSIS: Although about 100 localities have submitted proposals to become the site for Amazon's so-called second headquarters, it appears only a few of them meet all of the company's many requirements.

Amazon Headquarters RFP

As many as 100 localities in North American have apparently met an Oct. 19 deadline to submit proposals to Amazon to become the chosen location for the company’s second headquarters ended on Oct.19.

Months of waiting are ahead for all of the applicants until Amazon announces its selection and disappointment is certain for all but one of them.

While the company hasn’t said exactly which cities sent in proposals or how many there were, the cities across the U.S. and Canada have announced that they were submitting proposals. But many of these cities have missed or ignored the many requirements that Amazon is actually looking for.

This isn’t surprising. Landing the Amazon second headquarters really is a bonanza for the right locality. The company plans to hire as many as 50,000 workers and initially will need to build 500,000 square feet of office space eventually expanding to 8 million square feet. Economically, the construction project alone will result in billions of dollars in direct and indirect spending.

But the real issue lies in the idea of the right locality. To determine that, Amazon published a request for proposal, which said exactly what the company is looking for. Unfortunately only a few of the localities that submitted proposals actually meet the requirements. For the rest, it’s just wishful thinking.

Here’s what Amazon says it’s looking for, according to the RFP:

  • A metropolitan area of 1 million or more residents
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban location with potential to attract strong technical talent
  • The ability to think big with creativity regarding real estate and location
  • Within 30 minutes of a major population center
  • Close to an international airport with good direct connections to Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and Washington
  • Nearby major highways and arterial roadways
  • Access to mass transit including rail, trains, subways, metro and bus routes
  • Fiber communications infrastructure adequate for Amazon’s needs
  • Proximity to major universities
  • A local government that’s willing to work with Amazon
  • Good quality of life
  • Incentives (the more the better)

Those are just the major items. Amazon also wants a diverse population, a good fit with its corporate cultural values, a well-educated labor force, existing buildings or a shovel-ready site and reasonable capital and operating costs.

The key to becoming the next location for an Amazon headquarters is to meet all of the stated requirements without any fudge factor. For example, a city with an airport that calls itself “international” on the basis of one flight a week to Toronto in the summer isn’t going to qualify.

Likewise, the ability to attract a strong technical workforce at an average salary of $100,000 is going to be problematic for New York City where the cost of living is so high that such a salary isn’t enough.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...