Tacoma is best fit for Amazon, hands down

Tacoma attorney Erik Bjornson is an occasional op-ed contributor to The News Tribune.
Tacoma attorney Erik Bjornson is an occasional op-ed contributor to The News Tribune. Courtesy photo

Amazon has announced it will soon build the company’s second campus away from Seattle and has requested interested North American cities to submit proposals.

Gov. Jay Inslee has made it very clear he will seek to have Amazon locate its second headquarters in Washington and will be meeting with company officials.

Given the site criteria Amazon has set out, the best city for its further expansion is Tacoma, the City of Destiny. Mayor Marilyn Strickland has appeared on TV making our case.

Currently, a high percentage of Tacomans are forced to drive to Seattle and other cities for work. It is critical for Tacoma to focus on creating more family-wage, nonpolluting jobs for a number of environmental and quality-of-life reasons.

In addition to direct jobs, tens of thousands of indirect jobs could be created in Tacoma as they have in Seattle by the mere presence of Amazon.

It could also bring significant tax revenue through multiple sources to the city to fund critical services. Support of Tacoma’s philanthropic programs would certainly increase as well.

After reviewing the eight criteria Amazon has listed, it is evident that Tacoma is uniquely qualified as the best choice. Amazon has indicated that all submissions from interested cities must be received by Oct. 19. The decision will be made in 2018.

Tacoma offers a downtown campus at the Haub “superblock” site right next to the University of Washington Tacoma, which is graduating a record number of technology workers. Locating Amazon in Tacoma would offer more local employment opportunities for local college graduates.

UWT could also significantly increase its technology programs in anticipation of Amazon coming.

There are many other headquarters site options in Tacoma for Amazon to consider. However, the Haub site, in the middle of downtown on Pacific Avenue, is a perfect fit.

It is as if site were created uniquely for Amazon with a footprint similarly to its campus in Seattle.

It could be developed quickly without the cost of demolishing buildings, and it would be located on of Tacoma’s main transit corridors with Pierce Transit and directly on the Tacoma light-rail Link line.

This is the same site the city had prepared for an expansion of Russell Investments before its move to Seattle.

There are other downtown options available based on Amazon’s needs. The land to construct an urban campus would be relatively cheap, and Tacoma offers the most affordable housing of any Puget Sound city.

Tacoma is also competitive in that businesses are subject to neither a city nor a state income tax; the city is also located in a metropolitan area of more than a million people just over 20 miles from an international airport.

Only seven states in the U.S. do not have an income tax. Of the significant cities in these states, few would meet the stringent criteria set out by Amazon.

When faced with myriad options, more people are living in Tacoma by choice. The quality and affordability of life in Tacoma are better for Amazon workers than any other city the company has under consideration.

It is certainly prudent that Amazon is thoroughly examining cities around our country and in Canada for a new headquarters location.

However, at the end of the day, Tacoma can offer the expanding company far more than any other city.

Erik Bjornson is a Tacoma attorney who occasionally writes op-eds for the TNT about urban issues in the city.