7 Reasons Why It’s Smart for Amazon to Select Providence for Second HQ and 50,000 Jobs

Friday, September 08, 2017


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Jeff Bezos (Jurvetson via Flickr)

On Thursday, Amazon announced it is looking for a location for its second corporate headquarters - and it could mean 50,000 jobs. In addition, Amazon says the construction will likely total $5 billion.

Conventional wisdom is that Providence would not be at the top of the list for corporate headquarters, but as Amazon's Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying, "If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table."

SLIDES: 7 Reasons Why Providence Can - and Should - Win New Amazon Location BELOW

“Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community,” according to the company’s announcement.

How big is Amazon in Seattle, where it has its current headquarters? “Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy – every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall," claims the company. 

Within hours of the announcement on Thursday, Governor Gina Raimondo called together senior staff and outlined her strong desire to pursue the Amazon HQ2.

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Amazon Seattle Stats, Source: Amazon

Amazon is GE Times 50

In January of 2016, Providence lost out to Boston for General Electric's new corporate headquarters. Providence was one of the three finalists. 

In August, GE announced that it is breaking its $200 million development into two phases. Meanwhile, GE is looking at major cuts to its work force -- Jeff Immelt, the long-time CEO, was forced to resign this summer and its stock is one of the worst performing on the S&P 500.

The decision by GE will push back the construction of the 2.5-acre campus back to 2021. This will delay the hiring of hundreds of workers. 

Now, it is Providence’s opportunity. Read the seven reasons why Providence can and should win.


Related Slideshow: 7 Reasons Why It’s Smart for Amazon to Select Providence

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Uber and Airbnb CEOs Claim RI Pedigrees

Uber and Airbnb are arguably two of the most disruptive and innovative companies in the United States and both of their leaders are Providence educated.

RI ranks as the third worst state for retaining its college grads.  According to AOL Finance, nearly 70 percent of Rhode Island college grads leave the state.

We produce the smart kids. Amazon would keep them here and bring more in.

Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is a 1991 Brown grad and Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky is a RISD grad. 

Chesky earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from RISD in Industrial Design in 2004.

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Raimondo is Good at Giving Away Money to Out-of-State Companies

Amazon will make its selection based on a number of factors, but the number one factor will be who puts the best deal on the table.

Governor Gina Raimondo has given out hundreds of millions of dollars to a sweeping array of companies - Wexford, Virgin, GE, and Johnson & Johnson.

Wexford is still stalled and GE's jobs may be at risk as the company is looking to implement major cost saving measures. 

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We Have Space

There are not many cities that could host a campus inside the city that could house 50,000 workers, but Providence, with a little creativity, might be able to pull it off.

Between the Superman building, 195 land parcels (and toss in all of Kennedy Plaza) - there is space. Superman can house upwards of 3,000 employees and 195 has 26.41 acres of available land and 6,367,264 square footage.

Who would have thought that our inability to get anything done could turn into a competitive advantage?

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Location, Location, Location

Providence is perfectly located to be able to reach more than 55 million people in the Northeast -- and with Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, there is a greater strategic importance here. 

Amazon has added 900 high paying tech jobs in Boston and 1,800 in warehousing and logisitics jobs in Fall River, but Boston cannot provide the space and Fall River cannot provide the educated work force.  

Enter Providence. 

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Transportation Infrastructure

The growth of T.F. Green and the addition of nearly 20 direct flights, including international flights is a game changer. A year ago, Green offered 17 direct flights and now it is 35.

Providence's proximity to I-95, I-195, and I-295 gives ground access to the region. In comparison to cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore -- Providence-metro area congestion pales in comparison. 

Quonset and the Port of Providence add additional infrastructure resources. Planes, trains, automobiles (and boats) -- Providence is well situated, and accessible.  See the next slide. 

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Boston, a Suburb of Providence

For years, economists have talked about Providence's economy being tied to Boston's success. But, Boston is jammed packed, expensive, and nearly at construction capacity.

Boston has one of the five lowest commercial office space rates in America. Hard to see how Boston could add 50,000 workers. 

Conversely, tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders - many of the most skilled in the state - are traveling daily to Boston for their jobs and to benefit from the higher pay.

Amazon's HQ2 would transform Providence and create a much more peer and inter-related regional business powerhouse.

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Game Changer - Samuel Slater, Part II

Winning Amazon's HQ2 would be the most transformative change to the Rhode Island economy since Samuel Slater arrived in Rhode Island in 1789.

Rhode Island's political infrastructure can be petty and divisive, but the opportunity to bring in an absolute game-changer might be the motivation for all of Rhode Island to join together.

"Frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out." -- Jeff Bezos


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