Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has signed an executive order directing Seattle’s economic development officials to respond to Amazon’s request for proposals to build a second headquarters in North America.
“If there are to be an additional 50,000 jobs from warehouse workers to software engineers, they should be for our residents,” Harrell said. “You saw the response from over 100 cities across the country. We need to do everything we can possibly to make sure that we have the kind of environment that would be conducive to that kind of economic health and growth.”
He added, “I’m directing our city to closely examine our city strategy to not only retain many of our large employers but also establish a clear business retention strategy. This kind of issue really should not happen again. Our strategies must be aligned with our values and we do value jobs.”
Harrell announced the order at a press conference in Seattle this afternoon, where he also announced he will not continue to hold the mayoral position through the November election. Harrell took over the position this week after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid escalating sexual abuse allegations that Murray denies.
The Seattle City Council will now be required to select a replacement for Harrell, to serve as mayor until Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon is elected in November. Harrell asked the Council to consider a replacement at its Monday meeting.
See the archived video of the news conference below from our news partner KING5.
Amazon has been getting interest from cities all over the continent, seeking to become home to the Seattle e-commerce giant’s second headquarters, equal to its existing Seattle headquarters. Neighboring Tacoma and Snohomish County are planning to submit proposals. Amazon’s “HQ2” could consist of up to 8 million square feet of space and accommodate 50,000 employees.
Some community leaders had encouraged the city to bid on the second headquarters, even as a symbolic move, but as recently as earlier today this had looked unlikely amid the mayoral transition.
Harrell is known as one of the more centrist and business-friendly members of the Council, which could have played a role today’s executive order. Whatever the motivation, instructing Seattle to bid on Amazon’s HQ2 is a significant and high-profile policy decision for a mayoral term that will only last a few days.