Where Will Amazon Build Its Second Headquarters? Betting Odds

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos once again raised the question: “Why New York City?” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, he answered that question by revealing four reasons why the city is still the place to be for business.

The Diversity Of Talent

Perhaps the greatest strength of New York City is its diversity. Its five boroughs are home to a multicultural population that is reflected in the city’s economy. In 2016, over 263,000 people were employed in the city. Thirty-seven percent of these were immigrants or children of immigrants. Within this group, there are more than 77 different nationalities represented. In 2019, the city’s workforce is projected to increase by more than 12% to nearly 286,000 people. This is according to the New York City Regional Labor Department.

Diversity is also important to Amazon as it looks to expand its reach globally. The company operates 66 offices across 28 countries. With headquarters in Seattle, Washington, US, Amazon employs over 120,000 people worldwide. With this level of global reach, it’s of no surprise that the company is looking to expand its operations in the city. In the past, Amazon has established research & development centers, offices, and store locations in areas with a high concentration of skilled labor. In the past three years, this has included the formation of a healthcare technology practice in Nashville, TN, a robotics operations center in Bothell, WA, and a cloud computing center in Dublin, Ireland.

The Business Community

In the Journal piece, Bezos emphasized the importance of a vibrant business community. New York City prides itself on being the place where business can thrive. The city’s business community is one of the largest in the world, boasting 7.3 million square feet of office space and over 150,000 businesses in total. Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple all have offices in the city. More than 500 international businesses have offices or warehouses in the city as well. While the city’s economy has slowed in recent years, it still remains one of the world’s premiere business hubs. In 2019, new Census Bureau figures show the city’s jobless rate decreased to 3.7%from 4.3% in 2018.

Bezos also cited New York City’s favorable business environment as one of the main reasons for his company’s continued presence in the city. The city’s Zoning Code limits skyscrapers to below 56 floors and mandates that at least 20% of the units must be dedicated to housing lower-income residents and/or individuals making less than $500,000 per year. This provides an ideal environment for Amazon and other large businesses.

An Investment Hub

New York City is well known for being an important hub for the legal industry. The New York City Bar Association says that there are more than 160 active general counsel and corporate secretary positions currently available in the city. The WSJ article cited this as additional proof that New York City is still a great place to do business. In addition to having an educated work force, the city is also home to many prestigious law firms and top-notch educational institutions such as NYU School of Law and the New York University School of Law. Law firms in the city include Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and Milbank Tweed Hadley & Katz LLP. In 2019, it was reported that New York City was the 6th largest legal market in the world, representing 10% of the entire US legal market.

The Cultural Attraction

New York City is widely known for its arts and culture. The city’s galleries, museums, and concert halls attract thousands of visitors each week. In 2019, there were 16.6 million tourists that traveled to New York City. The strong cultural scene in the city undoubtedly aids in its draw as a business location. In the past, businesses have turned to the city’s cultural offerings to attract customers. In 2019, this trend continues as New York City becomes a mecca for those who love books, art, and music.

Bezos concluded his op-ed piece by reiterating New York City’s unique culture as one of the main reasons the company should continue to be in the city. He said, “If you need inspiration, you can always find it in New York. It’s always the most interesting place to be. The people are fascinating. The city is like a giant brain, constantly brainstorming new ideas and concepts. It’s quite an enchanting place.”

While Amazon remains committed to New York City, it’s clear that other locations around the world have caught the company’s attention. In the months and years to come, it will be interesting to see where Bezos’ company will choose to expand.