by Lance Turner
Posted 9/12/2017 11:35 am
Updated 2 weeks ago
In a Facebook post on Monday, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said the city will submit a bid to be home to Amazon's second North American headquarters.
The online retail giant announced last week that it was seeking a site for a $5 billion complex that would employ up to 50,000 people. The company already has a headquarters in Seattle but is running out of space there.
"We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We're excited to find a second home."
The announcement has sent major U.S. cities scrambling.
On Monday, Stodola said Little Rock would toss its hat into the ring:
The City along with our economic development team at the Chamber and AEDC have received the RFP and will be preparing our submission. Amazon is looking for strong local and regional talent in software and related fields and is particularly interested in entrepreneurs who are seizing the opportunity of the digital economy! Some of their requirements are challenging but I think our talent pool is deep with The Venture Center, the Tech Park, the Innovation Hub, Acxiom and Merkle and the UofA Little Rock's Emerging Analytics Center all located here in central Arkansas. We will "Think Big and Be Creative!" Send us your ideas!
Little Rock would be a long shot. Amazon has posted a list of criteria, which takes into account population, distance from an international airport and the local pool of qualified workers.
One analyst, looking at those factors and others, created a list of likely candidates. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at real estate data firm Zillow, put Austin, Texas, at the top, followed by Denver and Chicago. She said each has the amenities of a big city, aren’t geographically constrained and have cheaper housing than Seattle.