SEATTLE — Amazon’s search for “HQ2” is over.
After 14 months of rampant speculation and frenzied media coverage, Amazon revealed that rather than the 50,000-person, $5 billion second headquarters it said it wanted when it launched its search for a second home, the company has settled on two new bases — in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Va., outside Washington, D.C., and in the New York City borough of Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan.
“These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come,” Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in an official announcement. “The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”
One of the most controversial aspects of Amazon’s high-profile search has been its demand for government incentives in exchange for creating thousands of jobs and investing billions of dollars in the winning community.
As part of the HQ2 announcement, Amazon revealed the incentives that the winning cities offered. The company said it will receive up to $573 million in Arlington and up to $1.5 billion in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, based on the potential creation of 25,000 jobs in each locale.
In another surprise twist, Amazon said it will also put a new Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville, Tenn., promising 5,000 jobs and more than $230 million of investment. Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of up to $102 million based on the creation of 5,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000 in Nashville.
Amazon said hiring will begin in Virginia and New York in 2019.
Both locales are already hubs of activity for Amazon, and the planned expansion will more firmly establish the company’s presence in the nation’s financial and political capitals.
Amazon launched its HQ2 competition in September 2017 with a public request for proposals that detailed the company’s wish list for its second home. It whittled the list of 238 applicants to 20 finalists in January.
Amazon’s search for a second home forced Seattle to confront its often fraught relationship with the company, which has expanded at a breakneck pace and ignited a debate about the city’s core values. Amazon said it intends to continue to grow in its hometown. With about 45,000 Amazon employees based in Seattle and more than 8,000 open positions to fill in its Seattle offices, many local officials have concluded that HQ2 represents an Amazon expansion, not its exodus from the Pacific Northwest.