Portland’s Chances to Land Amazon RFP for Second Headquarters Seem Slim

The October 19 deadline for states, counties, provinces and metro areas in the US and Canada to submit proposals to Amazon in response to its search for a second headquarters location (with a budget of $5 billion and plans for employment of up to 50,000 workers over the next 10-15 years with an average annual total compensation exceeding $100,000) is fast approaching. It looks like Portland might throw its hat into the ring.

Amazon's stated preferences for the location per the guidelines for Amazon's request for proposals (Amazon HQ2 RFP) consist of the following criteria:

  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people.
  • A stable and business-friendly environment.
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options. 

Last month, The New York Times published an article in which the authors selected Amazon's new headquarters city based on the authors' analysis of all US cities using Amazon's selection criteria. The authors ultimately selected Denver as the winning city. But, Portland was a contender in the top four US cities and was cut only because the authors didn't think that it makes any sense to put a second headquarters so close to Seattle. This conclusion is consistent with a statement recently made by Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke, when he said at a recent GeekWire Summit that, "Not everybody wants to live in the Northwest. It's been terrific for me and my family, but I think we may find another location that allows us to recruit a different collection of employees." While Amazon subsequently tried to soothe the Pacific Northwest's concern about this statement by sending GeekWire a statement that read, "We will give serious consideration to every HQ2 proposal we receive from across North America, including from communities across the Pacific Northwest," it seems that Portland's chance for landing this proposal are likely slim.

I can't say I'm too upset, it seems that Portland needs to first work on its transportation and infrastructure shortcomings before inviting a huge influx of people to the region. In any case, we probably won't find out one way or the other for a while…the HQ2 RFP only states that a decision will be reached in 2018.

**UPDATE – 10/23/17**
Amazon has announced that it received 238 proposals for the opportunity to be the home of Amazon's HQ2. The proposals came from 238 cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America.