Updated Sep. 8, 2017 at 7:22 a.m.

Amazon's HQ2 shopping list is tailor-made for RTP

Published: 2017-09-07 09:03:00
Updated: 2017-09-08 07:22:49


A match made in Heaven? Amazon HQ2 and RTP. Think about it.

A review of Amazon's "key preferences and decision drivers" for a new, second headquarters worth $5 billion or more and coming with 50,000 jobs matches very well with Research Triangle Park as a destination.

Already home to 200 companies and 50,000 workers, RTP has been gearing up for major growth. Now's the time to cash in.

By the way, Amazon already has a growing presence in North Carolina, from Charlotte to Raleigh. And further expansion is already planned. So CEO Jeff Bezos and company already are familiar with the state.

Here's why RTP makes for an ideal destination - a top 10 matchup with Amazon's requirements (listed below):

1. Timing

2. Land availability

3. Workforce availability

4. Fiber

5. Operating costs/taxes

6. Incentives

7. Logistics

8. Timeline

9. Culture fit

10. Quality of life

The Amazon list matches with North Carolina and Triangle offerings top to bottom. The state's leaders have worked for years to create an attractive environment for expansion projects - but the Amazon is amazingly lucrative. All the spade work done to make the state and Triangle attractive to economic developers could now deliver a major payoffs.


Amazon HQ2 coverage:


First, timing.

The Research Triangle Park is rolling out a new strategic plan with major commitments/funding already lined up to turn the Park into a next-generation blend of high tech, housing and retail.

Second, land.

What about the largely vacant GlaxoSmithKline campus that is in the process of being redeveloped?

And then there are the Research Triangle Foundation's plans for its own land as part of the new strategic plan.

What about some of the land no longer used by IBM at its mega campus?

Third, workforce availability

Time after time, companies such as Infosys (2,000 jobs) have cited the Triangle as a place to grow due to availability of talent from the region's major universities and workforce training provided by community colleges. Then there is the opportunity to poach talent from existing employers, from startups to IBM, Cisco, Cree and many more.

Fourth, operating costs/taxes

North Carolina is well known for cutting deals on taxes and on costs such as utilities.

Fifth, fiber

The Triangle is a hub for some of the best fiber/high speed network capabilities in the countries. There are many major providers already available in RTP, from AT&T to Frontier to MCNC and its state-wide network, and Google Fiber picked the Triangle as one of the few places where it continues to expand.

The importance of lightning-fast, low latency communications to Amazon and its ecommerce empire can't be overestimated.

Sixth, incentives

The General Assembly has carved out substantial funds to land a major project. The thinking has been "auto plant" for a megasite.

Now that money could be used as Amazon bait.

Seventh, logistics

With an ever-growing, increasingly modern Raleigh Durham International Airport, what better logistics could be offered for quick, drop ship, instant shopping demands?

As for rail, there's the looming CSX project near Rocky Mount - well connected to the Triangle by I-540 to US 64 while access to the Virginia and points further north is being improved by ongoing improvements to I-85.

Then there also is the Global TransPark.in Kinston.

Eighth, timeline

Amazon wants to move quickly. An alliance of RTP and state officials could get this project nailed down and moving in short order.

Ninth, culture fit

If there is a Seattle on the East Coast, isn't it RTP/Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill?

Tenth, quality of life

The Triangle consistently scores among the best places to live in surveys year after year. Think Amazon doesn't already know this?


KEY PREFERENCES AND DECISION DRIVERS

From Amazon in its RFP:

The below are our preferences and are not in a ranking order. We want to encourage you to think big and be creative as you are collaborating to respond. Please address the drivers discussed below in your RFP submittals.

  • Site/Building – As described herein, finding suitable buildings/sites is of paramount importance. Amazon HQ2 is a transformational Project, and we must ensure we have the best real estate options available whether this be a redevelopment opportunity, a partnership with the state, province, local government, or new buildings. All options are under consideration.
  • Capital and Operating Costs – A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure will be high-priority considerations for the Project. Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process. Incentives – Identify incentive programs available for the Project at the state/province and local levels. Outline the type of incentive (i.e. land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, permitting, and fee reductions) and the amount. The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers.
  • Labor Force – The Project includes significant employment requirements at the threshold compensation levels described herein and with corresponding educational attainment of the available workforce. The Project must be sufficiently close to a significant population center, such that it can fill the 50,000 estimated jobs that will be required over multiple years. A highly educated labor pool is critical and a strong university system is required.
  • Logistics – Personnel travel and logistics needs, both from population centers to the Project site, as well as between company facilities, are critically important. As such, travel time to a major highway corridor and arterial roadway capacity potential are key factors. The highway corridors must provide direct access to significant population centers with eligible employment pools. Travel time to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. is also an important consideration.
  • Time to Operations – The Project requires an expeditious timetable for the location decision and the commencement of construction. Given this, sites with the requisite access, utility infrastructure, and zoning are critical. Please outline the permitting process and estimated timetable to initiate Phase I of our operations.
  • Cultural Community Fit – The Project requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long-term success. This includes the presence and support of a diverse population, excellent institutions of higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company, among other attributes. A stable and consistent business climate is important to Amazon. Please demonstrate characteristics of this in your response. We encourage testimonials from other large companies.
  • Community/Quality of Life – The Project requires a significant number of employees. We want to invest in a community where our employees will enjoy living, recreational opportunities, educational opportunities, and an overall high quality of life. Tell us what is unique about your community.

Source: Amazon


Note: This blog has been updated to note that the Triangle is connected better to Rocky Mount by US 64/I-540 than by an earlier suggested route via I-85.

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