Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess is expressing the city’s commitment to Amazon with a Tinder joke.
“With 40,000 Amazon employees in Seattle working in 8.1 million square feet of local office space, we have no intention of swiping left on you,” Burgess tells the company, restating the city’s commitment to Amazon in a new letter to the technology giant. “We meant it two decades ago when we first pledged that our success was your success and your success was our success.”
The letter is one of several from public officials in a lengthy proposal that King and Snohomish counties submitted Thursday as a regional response to the tech titan’s HQ2 plan, urging Amazon to establish its second headquarters close to home. The pitch includes 10 sites in cities surrounding Seattle but none in the city itself, where zoning changes would be required to accommodate Amazon’s HQ2 plan.
Thursday was Amazon’s deadline for cities around the continent to submit proposals to bring the company’s second, “fully equal” corporate headquarters to their communities. It’s a heated competition with a big prize: the winner will get 50,000 jobs and an 8-million-square-foot facility that will amount to a $5 billion investment, Amazon says.
The likelihood of Amazon choosing a Seattle-area site seems low given the big, public spectacle that the RFP process has become. But the King-Snohomish proposal does remind Amazon of the benefits of expanding in the Pacific Northwest. It also shows the company that local leaders are willing to support the continued growth of “HQ1.”
“Let Seattle take the opportunity to recommit to you in this RFP by outlining how our shared values and vision prove Seattle and the surrounding region have as much in common with Amazon as we did when we first got together more than two decades ago,” Burgess’s letter says.
Continue reading for the full text.
We know as Amazon looks for an HQ2 in addition to its current Seattle home base, you are considering several proposals from other cities in response to your September 7 RFP.
But October’s subsequent news that Amazon is planning to expand from Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood into Seattle’s downtown core by leasing the new 58-story Rainier Square tower project was a touching sign that, despite some current growing pains in our relationship, Amazon shares Seattle’s ardent commitment to being long-term partners. Like us, you are excited about growing together as we forge a mutually enriching future.
Just as you recommitted to us at Rainier Square, announcing your plans to move in to the heart of downtown Seattle with 3,500 new Amazon employees, let Seattle take the opportunity to recommit to you in this RFP by outlining how our shared values and vision prove Seattle and the surrounding region have as much in common with Amazon as we did when we first got together more than two decades ago.
When you launched here in 1994, you saw how Seattle’s reputation as a magnetic hub for new talent and Seattle’s status as a culturally rich and devoutly educated city matched Amazon’s prerequisites for finding a startup home. Your foresight paid off. You have since grown into the largest internet retailer on the planet with sales climbing to $136 billion. Of course, we’ve grown right alongside you. In the last 20 years, as Seattle has grown to 700,000 people in the city proper, we have emerged as an incandescent international center of arts, culture, and commerce anchored by premier education and research institutions and a seamless transportation network.
Recently, of course, other major new economy companies have discovered what a nurturing home we are. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Dropbox, HBO, Best Buy, Disney, Hulu, IBM, and Apple all have offices in Seattle now. At the same time, Expedia is planning to move its corporate headquarters from the Seattle suburbs to our lnterbay neighborhood.
And it’s not just tech companies that are flocking to Seattle. The traditional Fortune 500 manufacturing company, Weyerhaeuser, recently relocated from another Seattle suburb to Seattle’s historic inner-city, Pioneer Square neighborhood.
But don’t worry. With 40,000 Amazon employees in Seattle working in 8.1 million square feet of local office space, we have no intention of swiping left on you. We meant it two decades ago when we first pledged that our success was your success and your success was our success.
Today, our international allure is a big plus for Amazon: with nearly 2,000 people moving to Seattle every month; with 30 percent of all new jobs being in IT fields; with the third-fastest growing startup scene in the US, based on investments over the last five years; and finally, with more than 30 percent of the people considering leaving the Bay Area also considering moving to Seattle, Amazon benefits from Seattle’s popularity.
Our community’s cross currents of creativity and tech expertise aren’t only creating new jobs (100,000 since 2010), they are also creating a Seattle brainstorm that Amazon can harness to lift up and complement its own work. We understand that at times, we send mixed signals your way.
While we’re obviously a hot business town, we’ve also been committed to supporting labor. But like any long-term partners, we are going to have some disagreements as we push each other to be the best we can be. Seattle’s progressive $15 minimum wage, our cutting-edge paid sick leave policy, our secure scheduling law, and our community-friendly workforce agreements have all put pressure on Seattle businesses.
But just as our popularity is ultimately a win for Amazon, so too are Seattle labor policies that build civic partnerships across the economic spectrum. Making a city a great place for people to work, makes a city a great place for companies to do business. When workers in the service industry share in the success of our community, they simultaneously have a stake in our community. That’s a great equation for economic sustainability.
This brings us right back to the values we’ve had in common all along. Judging from the substantial contributions Amazon made to help the City pass a series of important local initiatives that invested in early education, parks, affordable housing, and most of all, put nearly $1 billion into transportation, it’s clear Amazon shares Seattle’s vision to build a sustainable city by prioritizing affordability, livability, mobility, education, and equity.
These public investments have created thousands of affordable housing units, have ensured that 87.7 percent of Seattle households are now within a 10-minute walk of 15-minute-or-better transit service, and have provided free early learning to thousands of children.
The proposal we’ve submitted today will detail how those kinds of civic commitments go hand in hand with our ongoing commitment to building a future with Amazon. As Amazon reviews all the responses to its RFP, we are confident the company will determine it’s already found the ideal home for growing, thriving, and doing business.
Tim Burgess, Mayor of Seattle