Bellevue officials weren’t coy with their feelings about Amazon’s decision to move thousands of Seattle-based employees to their city.
GeekWire reported Wednesday that Amazon is moving its worldwide operations team to nearby Bellevue in a major organizational shift and symbolic gesture — the clearest sign yet that the tech giant is cooling on its hometown while doubling down on a neighboring city.
Amazon will start relocating employees this month and expects the entire team to be in Bellevue by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue, where it opened its first office in 2017, and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.
“We’re excited by today’s announcement that Amazon plans to expand its presence in Bellevue,” Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak said in a statement issued after GeekWire’s report published. “As a community we’ve worked hard to anticipate this type of positive growth downtown, and Amazon is a natural fit. It’s also critical that these types of jobs stay in the region.
“Bellevue values our business community and we look forward to working with the company as their transition progresses. Welcome home, Amazon!”
Amazon’s move into Bellevue is indeed somewhat of a homecoming — Bellevue was actually its original birthplace, but CEO Jeff Bezos moved the company’s headquarters out of his garage and to Seattle’s urban core early on.
Fast forward to 2019, though, and now Amazon is looking for places outside of Seattle to base company operations. Amazon is leasing more than 1 million square feet of office space in Bellevue across three buildings and is rumored to be looking for more.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, meanwhile, was also happy with Amazon’s decision to relocate Seattle-based employees to Bellevue. Durkan was asked about GeekWire’s report in an interview Wednesday with Seattle radio station KUOW.
“It’s great news for the region,” she said. “The more jobs we have in the region and the more it’s diversified, the better it is for all of us. We’ve got a housing affordability crisis, not just in Seattle, but everywhere. Talent begets talent and I think that it is a good thing for Seattle, a good thing for Bellevue.”
Tensions between Amazon and Seattle reached a boiling point last year when Seattle officials and activists pushed for a tax on big businesses to fund affordable housing, carrying “Tax Amazon” signs across the company’s campus on several occasions. The tax passed but was quickly repealed amid opposition from the business community.