Potential for Amazon HQ2 puts Charlotte leadership to work on proposal

Potential for Amazon HQ2 puts Charlotte leadership to work on proposal

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Amazon is already a fixture in the retail lives of Charlotte residents. The global digital commerce company could also become a fixture in the greater Charlotte economy, too.

Amazon is requesting bids for locations to build a second headquarters in North America. The company says the deal could bring 50,000 jobs over several years with an average salary of $100,000, plus a $5 billion construction investment. Amazon says the commitment would also fuel tens of thousands of indirect jobs and billions of dollars in community investment long-term.

The Charlotte Chamber and Charlotte Regional Partnership say they are "aggressively pursuing this opportunity" and plan to submit a proposal. The deadline is October 19. Incentives from the city and state level are likely to be part of the bid.

"I think the presence of Amazon here would be great for this city. A lot of people would accept it with open arms," said Gordon White, a Charlotte resident who relocated from Brooklyn.

The Queen City does meet some of Amazon's requirements already, which include a population greater than one million and good airport access, plus proximity to major highways and interstates.

The company already operates a fulfillment center near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

"There are so many things in this area that make us attractive over other cities," said Melinda DeJong, General Manager of Ettain Group, an IT solutions company with office space in Southend.

DeJong believes the highly-educated workforce Amazon wants is easy to attract and retain in Charlotte. She points to the successful financial sector in Charlotte and the emergence of start-up tech companies. Employees stay in Charlotte, she says, because of strong schools, a good housing market, and entertainment options like professional sports.

Those quality of life factors were also considered by tech news company Recode in a recent article, which listed Charlotte among several cities with the potential to land the Amazon HQ2. Recode compiled data on the cost of office space, housing, and tech labor force with put Charlotte in the middle of the pack.

"We still have a big city feel, small-town friendly," said DeJong.

She can easily see the selling points in Southend with the light rail, walkable restaurants, and new construction all in view. Charlotte has been busy building to attract bigger businesses like Amazon for years.

"It's an exciting thing," said White as walked along Tryon Street to a meeting.

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