Connecticut officials announced plans on Monday to submit a proposal to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to the state.
Amazon opened its search for a second site on Sept. 7 in a press release, setting off a competitive bidding war across North America. The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is spearheading the application process and is currently identifying regions around the state that meet Amazon’s criteria for its second headquarters, according to Catherine Smith SOM ’83, commissioner of the DECD.
New Haven is eager to be considered in Connecticut’s bid for the headquarters, said Laurence Grotheer, director of communications for Mayor Toni Harp. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin ’01 LAW ’06 and Hamden Mayor Curt Leng have also expressed interest having the company’s second site open in their cities.
“The prospect of an Amazon presence in Connecticut presents an exciting opportunity — New Haven is eager to explore its potential role to help make it happen,” Harp said in a Sept. 11 press release.
Smith said the state will go public with its proposal — which will include potential real estate sites, local and state incentives for the project, and logistical details — closer to Amazon’s deadline on Oct. 19. She declined to list specific cities currently under consideration.
Housing Amazon’s second headquarters, which the company is calling HQ2, would bring a huge economic investment to the state. The company plans to spend over $5 billion in construction and expects to create as many as 50,000 new jobs with annual salaries exceeding $100,000.
“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the press release. “We’re excited to find a second home.”
On its website, Amazon listed multiple criteria for the second site, including a population of more than one million people, a stable business climate for growth, strong local talent in tech and access to mass transit.
Smith said Connecticut’s transportation system would be able to meet Amazon’s requirement of accessible travel amenities, citing the new rail system expected to open in May 2018 that will run from New Haven to Springfield.
According to internal estimates, Amazon’s Seattle campus has added $38 billion to the city’s economy between 2010 and 2016. Smith said the company’s second headquarters would be a huge source of employment for Connecticut and provide a “terrific shot in the arm for our economy.”
Cities across North America, including Boston, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Dallas, Nashville and Toronto, are also vying to bring Amazon’s second site to their communities.
While the search is still in its early stages, Connecticut does not appear to have a high chance of winning the coveted headquarters, according to Timothy Bartik ’75, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
“I haven’t seen Connecticut or even New York anywhere up there for plausible candidates,” Bartik said.
Bartik mentioned Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis and the Washington, D.C. area as possible contenders. An analysis published in the New York Times last week stated that Denver would be the best location for Amazon’s second office, given the company’s search criteria.
Smith acknowledged the stiff competition nationwide, but emphasized that Connecticut’s highly educated workforce and convenient location are advantages that would appeal to Amazon. She said the state is positioned favorably in the East Coast marketplace between New York and Boston, but offers lower costs of living than other major metropolitan areas.
Grotheer echoed Smith’s comment, praising New Haven’s strong labor pool and the presence of local colleges and universities to “continuously feed that pipeline of workforce talent.”
Bronin, the mayor of Hartford, said cities should work together in pitching Connecticut to Amazon, as bringing the company anywhere in the state would boost the local economy.
“We have to remember that we’re going to be competing against cities that are as large as our entire state,” Bronin said in an emailed statement to the News. “So, we can’t be narrow-minded or parochial about this.”
Cities will need to present Amazon with appealing incentives, such as job creation tax credits and property tax abatements, in order to win the fierce bidding war, according to Bartik. The DECD is working hard to prepare the best package of incentives for its pitch, Smith said.
In June, Amazon announced plans to open a $255 million fulfillment center in North Haven, which is projected to add 1,800 new jobs. The company already operates two facilities in Connecticut: a fulfillment center in Windsor and a sorting center in Wallingford.
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