In the wake of Amazon’s surprise decision to open a second headquarters somewhere other than Seattle, local and state leaders must find ways to assure Amazon and other companies that they are still welcome and able to grow in this region.
SEATTLE and the state of Washington will continue to benefit from Amazon.com’s remarkable expansion, despite the company’s surprising decision to open a second headquarters elsewhere in North America.
Yet there’s no mistaking this is a distressing wake-up call. Especially Amazon’s newfound indifference to Seattle remaining its primary headquarters.
State and local government and business leaders must respond by assuring Amazon, other large employers and entrepreneurs that Greater Seattle still has the capacity, talent and desire to enable their companies’ growth.
Any civic shortcomings need a concerted response. Amazon should help by explaining what its hometown can do to better support fast-growing, large-scale companies.
Seattle’s current political leaders must recognize that poor planning and anti-business posturing come with a heavy price. Their politicking creates uncertainty for job creators and was a factor in Amazon’s decision to look elsewhere to expand.
Amazon’s growth, while a source of pride to most, has not been easy for the region. City leaders’ failure to adequately plan for the residential, commercial and traffic growth it permitted created an environment where Amazon was blamed for Seattle’s growing pains.
Other cities crave the diversity, prosperity and clean, good-paying jobs that Amazon brings. Seattle City Hall used tension over Amazon’s growth and wealth creation as leverage, to fulfill developer wish lists and advance labor’s political agenda, including an income tax that’s illegal under state law.
It’s telling that Seattle’s largest employer gave city leadership no advance notice of its momentous decision.
Instead of hyping growth pains to justify upzones, Seattle officials should have been working closely with Amazon on its expansion plans. Now they need to remind Amazon and everyone else that regional growth plans show a surplus of residential and commercial capacity.
It won’t be lost on historians that two months after City Hall cheered itself for “taxing the rich,” Amazon chose to seek a “stable and business-friendly environment” for its next act: A $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs.