NASHVILLE - Expect Nashville to be in the running for Amazon.com Inc.'s planned second corporate headquarters, though economic development officials acknowledge it will be a crowded, competitive field.
The pitch will likely include Middle Tennessee's business-friendly environment and quality of life, no state income tax and access to a talented workforce in a city once known as the “Athens of the South.”
On Thursday, Mayor Megan Barry said her economic development team would begin working with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the state to identify potential locations in Davidson County that would be a good fit for the giant Seattle-based online retailer’s needs.
“I’m confident that our socially progressive, pro-business climate, talented workforce, and overall great quality of life offers the type of environment that they are looking for in the city they’ll choose,” she said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland also posted to Twitter Thursday to say they will 'absolutely make a bid'.
Amazon said the second headquarters will resemble the online retailer's Seattle corporate site, which has contributed $38 billion to the local economy there.
What Amazon is looking for
In its request for proposal, Amazon said it will select a metro area with a population greater than one million, a "stable and business-friendly" environment and a location that attracts and retains "strong technical talent." The overall population of the 14-county Nashville region is roughly 1.87 million, according to U.S. Census data.
Amazon is expected to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters site and employ as many as 50,000 people there. Full-time employees will earn average annual total compensation of more than $100,000 over the next 10 to 15 years, according to the request for proposal.
"In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community," the online retailer said.
Amazon is already a major employer in Middle Tennessee though a pair of distribution and warehousing fulfillment centers in Murfreesboro and Lebanon and a sorting center at 50 Airways Blvd. in Nashville. The Murfreesboro location, for instance, employs 1,550 people, according to a Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce listing of largest employers in that county.
"Given that they have operations already in the area and Nashville is centrally located with access to a significant portion of the country's population, Nashville would complement their existing headquarters in Seattle," said Barry Smith, president of Nashville-based commercial real estate firm Eakin Partners.
Locally, Amazon's employee recruitment efforts could be boosted by 123,000 college students in the Nashville area and 26,000 graduates each year, economic development officials say.
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