Amazon is often criticized for its massive ambitions — which can sometimes seem imperialistic in scale. But the mayor of Bellevue, Wash., had nothing but praise for the Seattle tech giant when he delivered his annual State of the City address this week.
John Chelminiak celebrated Amazon’s decision to relocate its worldwide operations team from Seattle to Bellevue, where the tech giant was originally founded. The move will bring thousands of jobs to the city, which sits across Lake Washington from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
“It was a boost that we need and I think we all need to thank Amazon for coming back home,” Chelminiak said in front of a backdrop that read “Bellevue Prime.”
This week Amazon purchased a 3.5-acre parcel in Bellevue, a major development site that could eventually become a centerpiece of the tech giant’s rapidly growing footprint there. Amazon opened its first Bellevue office building in 2017. In less than two years, the company’s Bellevue presence has multiplied to more than 1 million square feet, not counting this new development site.
Why it matters: Bellevue and Seattle find themselves in a bizarre love triangle with Amazon, which has an increasingly contentious relationship with its hometown. Amazon said the decision to relocate its critical worldwide operations team was due, in part, to Bellevue’s “business-friendly environment.” It’s easy to read that as a slight against Seattle City Hall, which Amazon has described as “hostile … toward larger businesses.”
Sharing the spotlight: Though Chelminiak is thrilled about the influx of Amazonians, he spent more time during his speech praising Washington’s other tech titan. “I also want to talk about the importance of our community and another company that has done something that, in my mind, is beyond incredible and that is the effort by Microsoft to work in the affordable housing area,” he said.
In January, Microsoft launched a new $500 million fund to support low- and middle-income housing in the Seattle region. The software giant is headquartered near Bellevue in Redmond, Wash.