Sacramento, Bay Area left off Amazon’s list of finalists for second headquarters

Amazon announced Thursday that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast.
Amazon announced Thursday that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. AP

Sacramento didn’t make the cut on Amazon’s list of 20 cities for a second headquarters, the company announced Thursday.

San Francisco and San Jose were also booted from the running, as was the tech giant’s current base of Seattle. Los Angeles was the only West Coast city to survive the culling.

When Sacramento joined more than 230 North American hubs in submitting bids for HQ2, Greater Sacramento Economic Council president/CEO Barry Broome called the city’s offering “the No. 1 proposal in California by a long shot.”

Broome highlighted 12 possible sites in Sacramento, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Roseville and El Dorado, Sutter and Placer counties as well as a deep wealth of tech talent from Silicon Valley and nearby universities.

“While Amazon is missing out on a great opportunity, we gained one,” Broome said in a council media release. “This community has shown true leadership and worked together to put together the best proposal possible in such a short time.”

In its initial call for proposals, Amazon indicated it was looking for a new home with more than 1 million people, a business-friendly environment, a large base of tech-savvy workers and a strong real estate market. It also wanted to be within 45 minutes of an international airport and close to a major highway, and have at least 500,000 square feet from which to start.

In exchange, Amazon will offer 50,000 new high-paying jobs in the chosen city and at least $5 billion in construction revenue. The company estimated it has contributed $38 billion to Seattle’s economy over the last six years. The winning city is expected to be announced later this year.

Inc. Magazine pegged Sacramento as a sleeper candidate for Amazon’s future home thanks to the region’s STEM skills and cultural diversity in an article published earlier this year. In a bold attempt to cash in a large favor, Mayor Darrell Steinberg also reminded the company that he helped delay a sales tax on online retailers as state Senate pro tem in 2011.

On Thursday, Steinberg said he was disappointed but not surprised that Sacramento did not make the cut. Officials in the mayor’s office said they had not been told by Amazon why Sacramento was left off the finalist list.

“We were always considered a dark horse,” Steinberg said. “Bummer for them.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has offered $200 million in tax credits over five years and $100 million in workforce training over 10 years were Amazon to pick a California city, the Orange County Register reported. But that pales in comparison to states such as New Jersey, where former Gov. Chris Christie pledged $7 billion in tax breaks if the company picks Newark.

The cities Amazon is still considering are:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Nashville
  • Newark
  • New York City
  • Northern Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

Apple announced plans Wednesday to build a second domestic corporate campus as well. The project is expected to add 20,000 high-paying jobs to an undetermined city, though Apple isn’t openly soliciting bids for a future site.

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel