The Amazon Seattle Headquarters is a campus of 33 buildings and it is still growing. The company has more than 40,000 Seattle employees with openings for 6,000 more as new buildings under construction in Seattle are completed.
Chef Tom Douglas has 17 restaurants, and 1,000 employees, within 10 blocks of the Amazon campus catering to their Seattle-based workforce.
“It’s good for business. It’s good for the vitality of the city,” Douglas said. “When you put a group of 10 or 20 restaurants in Downtown Seattle, you create a livability that creates more people that want to live down here.”
High-rise apartments have sprung up in Seattle around the Amazon campus. Many employees walk or ride bikes to work.
“When you get a company like this with so many tech people, so many engineers and scientists and thinkers, they’re going to spawn all sorts of new businesses,” Douglas said.
To help attract and keep those people, Amazon expansion underway in Seattle includes a structure of Biosphere domes that will be filled with plants to provide a soothing environment for workers; employees are also encouraged to bring their dogs to work.
“Amazon and many northwest companies are really good about their employees and staff and health care and all the things that make a good employer,” Douglas said.
Matt McIlwain and his firm Madrona Venture Group are early Amazon investors. He said the Amazon story in Seattle is overwhelmingly positive with remarkable job growth and low unemployment.
“I like to think of them as an innovation factory because they take this set of core principals, like beginning with the customer in mind, thinking long term,” McIlwain said.
To help accommodate the company’s amazing growth, Amazon is soliciting proposals from other cities to create a second headquarters campus that could support another 50,000 employees with a $5 billion investment.
Longtime Amazon observer Todd Bishop, with Geekwire in Seattle, said the biospheres demonstrate why Amazon bidders need to think outside the box on luring the company.
“I would think big, think really big,” Bishop said. “And not just square footage. Not just economic incentives. But, be creative with what you do. Look at those spheres and think to yourself, what would our version of the spheres be? How can we get Amazon’s attention?”
McIlwain is convinced Amazon is considering all options for HQ2.
“Knowing Amazon’s culture so well, I’m convinced that they don’t know the answer yet. What they like to do is put out questions, frame those questions and then go look at the data,” McIlwain said.
Seattle leaders have said they will compete to keep Amazon’s expansion in that city. Other cities around the nation are lining up. Several North Texas locations will be included in a regional bid.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings just returned from a visit to Seattle to size up the situation. Rawlings is a former Pizza Hut CEO who has spent time in corporate board rooms. He said North Texas has what Amazon needs.
“We have more technology employees in the Dallas area than Austin and almost Houston put together. Three times as many as Austin,” Rawlings said. “Dallas has the largest light rail system in the country. In the country. So we know how to do this.”
Rawlings pointed to major companies already headquartered in North Texas including AT&T with a large campus in Downtown Dallas and Exxon and Kimberly-Clark in Irving.
Amazon has asked interested cities to submit bids by Oct. 19. The company hopes to make a final site selection in 2018.
Amazon's Request for Proposals: