SEATTLE - Whether you love or hate Amazon, no one can dispute the ferocious economic engine it has been for Seattle.
“Amazon is magnetic to talent - it’s one of the few companies people will uproot their entire lives to be a part of,” Professor Jeffrey Shulman said.
Professor Shulman at the University of Washington studies Amazon’s effects on Seattle. He says the company’s news to open not just a second but a third headquarters on the East coast is not the best news for Seattle’s economy.
“This is possibly the worst possible news for those that are hoping Amazon will continue to drive economic and population growth in Seattle,” Shulman said.
Amazon announced on Tuesday that it is creating a second headquarters in Crystal City in Northern Virginia and a third headquarters in New York’s Long Island City. Amazon says it will start hiring in 2019 in those cities and hopes to employ 25,000 workers in each city.
Shulman says thousands of small businesses and many other industries rely on Amazon in Seattle and the people it employs.
He says two more headquarters mean more competition for Seattle to draw talent and also gives Amazon more outside options to invest in.
“Amazon now has two cities. If Amazon doesn’t like what’s happening here in Seattle, they can place more jobs there,” Shulman said.
But Amazon executives emphasized to Q13 News that jobs will not be moving from Seattle to the East Coast.
"Amazon’s first and current headquarters is Seattle. We have more than 45,000 employees in Seattle right now. We have 8,000 job openings in Seattle,” Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney said.
Is Amazon still committed to the 4 million square foot expansion in the future?
“I can’t tell you what the numbers will look like in Seattle 10 or 15 years, but we have this fabulous headquarters here, we have a big presence, we are very integrated in the community, we are going to stay here,” Carney said.
We also inquired if Seattle’s lack of transportation infrastructure played a role in the company’s desire to move.
“We looked at 100 metrics, 100 different metrics when we were evaluating the possible locations for HQ2, traffic is one of them,” Carney said.
Public transportation is good in the cities they are moving to, but Carney says the number one factor to expand in the two cities comes down to talent.
That comes as no surprise to tech experts.
“There is so much talent here and there is so much they can do to recruit talent here,” Washington Technology Industry Association CEO Michael Schutzler aid.
WTIA represents more than 800 tech companies across the state, and Schutzler says Amazon’s move is a mathematical inevitability.
“Not much is going to change for Seattle. The growth of Amazon hiring will probably slow down a bit, but Amazon’s overall growth as a corporation is enormous,” Schutzler said.
Schutzler says the impact will be minimal in Seattle, but Shulman predicts the pace of growth we are used to will slow down.
“They won’t be adding at the same pace as we’ve seen,” Shulman said.
Shulman says if his prediction is correct, that may be good news for people concerned about skyrocketing rent and the ever changing landscape of Seattle.