Amazon wants a second HQ, and it’s got $5 billion to spend – CNET

Amazon's Spheres structures in Seattle

At its Seattle campus, Amazon is building these “Spheres” as a nature complex and workspace.

James Martin/CNET

Amazon is now so big it wants a second headquarters.

The world’s largest online retailer said Thursday it plans to build a corporate base in a major North American city that will be a full equal to its existing Seattle headquarters. It expects to spend over $5 billion on the project, called Amazon HQ2, and hire as many as 50,000 people for high-paying jobs.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited to find a second home.”

The company is seeking requests for proposals from cities to be submitted by Oct. 19. The final site selection is expected to be announced sometime next year.

Amazon is likely making this announcement to generate excitement from multiple cities and states in hopes of sparking a bidding war. It could find itself with millions or billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives for agreeing to come to any given location.

It’s likely many cities will be falling over themselves to bring home a major tech company. Others may be more hesitant — Amazon has already taken over large chunks of downtown Seattle, helping drive up housing costs in the area.

There is precedent in the business world to developing additional headquarters. Several major companies have done so, especially after merging with another big firm and agreeing to maintain both companies’ headquarters. 

Amazon said Thursday it’s looking for a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people and urban or suburban locations with potential to hire tech talent. That gives the Silicon Valley area an obvious leg up in the competition. Amazon is considering a layout similar to its Seattle location, which is in an urban core.

This announcement is part of Amazon’s continued heavy spending as it looks to keep growing. The company in January said it will spend $1.49 billion to build a new air cargo hub in Kentucky and it’s already in the process of expanding its Seattle headquarters. It also just closed a deal to buy grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

Amazon has more than 380,000 employees worldwide and said in January it would hire 100,000 people in the US over the next 18 months.

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