Amazon’s on the Hunt and – Surprise – Transit is Needed

Retail giant Amazon launched in September what may be the greatest urban development project in a generation – a location search for a second corporate headquarters.

States and cities across the country – and even Provinces in Canada – jumped at the chance to land this amazingly lucrative project – and Hampton Roads was right in the mix, with a big push from Virginia Beach.

It’s easy to see why just about every competitive city and region wants a chance on this project.

HQ2, as Amazon calls its project, is expected to involve over $5 billion in capital expenditures, the construction of 33 buildings to meet the 8.1-million square feet of business space the company will need. The buildings alone are expected to house 24 local restaurants/cafes.

The superlatives don’t end there. Amazon said that as many as 50,000 new full-time employees will be hired – with an average annual total compensation exceeding $100,000, once operations begin at the new location. Hotel stays are expected to increase by 233,000 nights, and create up to 53,000 more jobs from Amazon’s direct investments into the local economy. Increases in personal income by non-Amazon employees as a result of Amazon’s direct investments is expected to be $17 billion.

The jobs will likely be broken down into the following categories: executive/management, engineering with a preference for software development engineers (SDE), legal, accounting, and administrative

In its list of core preferences for the winning application, Amazon listed transit services as an important component, a detail that once again underscored the important role transit plays in the economic development projects of the nation’s leading corporations.

In its request for proposals, Amazon indicated its new headquarters should be located within 30 miles of a population center, 45 minutes to an international airport, one to two miles from an interstate and mass transit on site.

This is the second time that a leading corporation has cited transit as a key factor in locating to Hampton Roads.

When ADP announced in 2016 that would move a regional office to Norfolk, it listed as among the reasons for the relocation the presence of mass transit, a feature that appealed to the company’s corporate culture.

ADP has 55,000 employees and ranks No. 251 on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations. It says it has revenue of more than $10 billion a year and handles payroll for 1 in 6 American workers.