KC will make ‘aggressive’ bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, and its 50,000 jobs

How much office space does Amazon require for its second U.S. headquarters?

Kansas City leaders plan on making a hard push to attract Amazon's attention as it looks for a city to build a second U.S. headquarters. The venture could employ 50,000 people and would need massive amounts of office space.
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Kansas City leaders plan on making a hard push to attract Amazon's attention as it looks for a city to build a second U.S. headquarters. The venture could employ 50,000 people and would need massive amounts of office space.

Kansas City intends to make a serious bid to be Amazon’s planned second headquarters, which the online shopping behemoth described as a $5 billion investment that would offer as many as 50,000 jobs.

“Kansas City will compete,” Mayor Sly James tweeted Thursday morning, saying he had asked City Manager Troy Schulte and the Economic Development Corporation Kansas City to help him put together a team to respond to the company’s request for proposals.

The Kansas City Area Development Council also announced Thursday that it would submit a proposal on behalf the metro area. Tim Cowden, president and chief executive of the KCADC, said the Amazon headquarters “is the largest opportunity that’s been available anywhere in the U.S. for quite some time.”

“This is why the KCADC exists,” Cowden said. “This is a huge opportunity for our region. There will be a lot of competition, but we are going to be creative, aggressive and put forth a extremely compelling business case that represents the entirety of the region.

Amazon announced Thursday the “HQ2” project would involve “high-paying” jobs.

Amazon officials said that meant positions making $100,000 or more.

If the Kansas City area landed the Amazon HQ2 project in what is certain to be a fierce competition among cities all over the U.S., it would transform the region’s business landscape.

For starters, 50,000 employees would make Amazon Kansas City’s largest employer.

It would also create a massive office campus in the area. Amazon is asking for 500,000 square feet for an initial phase of the headquarters project, but would ultimately build out to 8 million square feet. By comparison, the Cerner Innovations campus at the former Bannister Mall site where 16,000 are expected to work is expected to be just fewer than 5 million square feet of new development when completed. The downtown loop in Kansas City doesn’t even have 8 million square feet of office space, according to research by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

In addition to its direct investment, the company said its second headquarters in North America would create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in investment in the surrounding community.

Amazon said the second headquarters would be “a full equal to our current campus in Seattle.”

Mary's Place announced on May 10, 2017, that Amazon will donate more than 47,000 square feet of space within Amazon's newest Seattle headquarters building as a permanent location for a Mary's Place Family Shelter.

Amazon is looking at cities with more than 1 million people that have a “stable and business-friendly environment” and urban or suburban locations “with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.”

Amazon also wants an international airport within 45 minutes of its planned campus, proximity to major highways and arterial roads and access to mass transit, which its request for proposals described as “direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes.”

The Area Development Council said it would lead the regional effort “in partnership with our communities, states, workforce, education, utility, corporate and philanthropic partners.

“We have been in touch with the appropriate people at Amazon and we are moving quickly to put the KC region in the best possible light.”

The KCADC said the region will not respond by taking the “average route” to the request for proposals.

“Kansas City and our region are in a great position to put our best foot forward,” Cowden said.

Amazon currently occupies 19 percent of all office space in Seattle, where its presence is more than twice as large as any other company in any other U.S. city, according to the Seattle Times. It occupies more space than the next top 40 employers in the city combined.

Amazon estimates that its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy.

Amazon is a publicly traded U.S. corporation with more than 380,000 employees in North America and throughout the world.

“Due to the successful growth of the company, it now requires a second corporate headquarters in North America,” Amazon said.

Amazon said its preference is for a metro area with more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly environment and a community that thinks “big and creatively.”

The company said its second headquarters does not have to be a downtown campus or similar in layout to the Seattle campus and it does not necessarily require a development-prepped site.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Oct. 19.

“Kansas City has a great workforce and an excellent cost of living that would be attractive to any national company,” Schulte said in a written statement. “Add in our tech and Smart City infrastructure, plus jazz, fountains, BBQ and a thriving creative scene, and we think Amazon will take a good look at KC.”

McClatchy contributed to this report.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC