Tacoma can win the continent-wide rush for Amazon’s second headquarters – in part by being close to the mother ship in Seattle.
That’s part of the pitch being made to Amazon by Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
Though some say Tacoma’s proximity to Amazon’s current headquarters is a detriment — “Not everybody wants to live in the Northwest,” said Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke — Kendall says it’s a selling point.
A second headquarters in Tacoma, he said, means workers could commute between the two for face-to-face collaboration.
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“And it’s far enough away to engender intra-company competition,” he said. “This is still a very open competition. … We’ve got reassurances that we are still in the game.”
Kendall, interviewed Tuesday, will speak alongside other Pierce County leaders Wednesday (Oct. 18) about the Tacoma-Pierce County bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
He did not go into specifics about the proposal, which he said will be confidential per Amazon’s request. He said the EDB will submit it to the company before Thursday’s deadline.
About 50 people from several governments worked the proposal, Kendall said.
The internet retail behemoth kicked off a frenzy among cities when it announced last month it was seeking applications for a second headquarters that eventually could house 50,000 employees at a $5 billion campus.
Economic development professionals here almost immediately said they planned to submit an offer.
Within a couple of days, the EDB had hired consultants for the push. Pierce County was so far along that when County Executive Bruce Dammeier received a call from King and Snohomish county’s executives in late September, he refused to throw Pierce County’s fortunes in with the counties to the north, saying he thought they were not as prepared.
Still, other cities — all outside of the Evergreen State — are seen as frontrunners, Notably, Denver shows up on many lists of top cities. The Mile High city has 245 days of sunshine a year, a stark contrast to Seattle’s 152 days per year.
Still, Kendall remains buoyed by Tacoma’s chances.
“We are able to attract talent from throughout the region, North America, and frankly globally,” he said. “When we win it, it will be largely because of that element.”
In addition to financial incentives and workforce requirements, Amazon is looking for a cultural fit. Kendall said Tacoma exceeds Amazon’s requirement on that front and many more.
“We are tolerant,” he said. “We are an international city. We are on the Pacific Rim.”
The state has said it intends to create an incentive package that any applicant would be able to use. Kendall said some incentives listed in the Tacoma-Pierce County proposal would require legislative approval.
And if Amazon does choose the City of Destiny?
“I’m not worried about (Tacoma) changing for the worse,” Kendall said. “I’m excited about the change that will inevitably occur with any project of this magnitude.”
Amazon could choose a finalist sometime next year.