City Beat

Sacramento plans to bid for Amazon headquarters – and 50,000 jobs

Sacramento is jumping into the Amazon sweepstakes.

Hours after Amazon announced Thursday it was accepting bids from cities for a second North American headquarters, Sacramento city officials said they were preparing their proposal to land a facility that could employ 50,000 people.

“I have an answer for Amazon – Sacramento,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a written statement. “Our city and region are putting real energy into intentionally building and growing an innovative and well-connected ecosystem unlike anywhere else in the country. We are about people, and we are pulling together our best and brightest from across the region to work together on a competitive plan for Amazon and are confident in the unique assets and abilities our region has to offer.”

The city’s bid is due by Oct. 19.

In its announcement that it was seeking bids for Amazon HQ2, the company said it expects to invest more than $5 billion in a new facility that will “be a full equal to Amazon’s current campus in Seattle.” The company is accepting bids from metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents and “strong local and regional talent – particularly in software development and related fields.”

Amazon is nearing completion of a new 855,000-square-foot distribution center near Sacramento International Airport and is hiring 1,500 full-time workers for the facility. That warehouse is part of a national hiring spree by the company; Amazon said earlier this year it plans to hire 100,000 new employees around the country by the middle of 2018.

The competition for the new headquarters will be fierce. Los Angeles is planning to bid and many other cities – including Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City and Detroit – have already been mentioned as contenders.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, in a written statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Amazon has a list of requirements for interested cities, including access “to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.” Flights to those cities are available from Sacramento International Airport.

The company said it is looking for cities with business-friendly environments and with “development-prepped” locations where a new campus can be built quickly.

Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who recently toured Amazon’s Seattle headquarters with other local officials, said luring the company “anywhere in the Sacramento region would be a win.” Her North Natomas district is home to the former Sleep Train Arena site, a 200-acre plot of land currently sitting vacant.

“The arena reuse site is clearly one viable site,” she said.

The site is owned by the Sacramento Kings. A team spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Ashby said Sacramento has made progress in fostering a business-friendly environment with investments in public transportation and housing. And she said “Sacramento has a lot of natural things to offer.”

“Other places may come up with ways to streamline costs, but part of our story is the people who live here and what kind of region we are,” she said.

University of the Pacific economist Jeff Michael said Sacramento is likely a long shot, given the regulatory environment in California that sometimes prohibits large projects from moving quickly and its lack of a major international airport. But he said the region may have some attributes the company finds attractive.

“The case you’ve got to make is that the Bay Area talent base would rather be living here if they could get a good job,” Michael said. “And I think there’s some evidence of that (already happening).”

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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