Maybe Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is simply looking for a commercial real estate bargain.
Maybe Amazon’s very public search for a second company headquarters is a bit of corporate grandstanding.
Maybe the man who helped change the way we shop is actually seeking new ways for corporations and their workers to do business.
But let’s give Bezos credit for one thing he’s already accomplished in his quest for a home for “HQ2,” which would mirror the company’s Seattle corporate hub.
Folks are now playing nice, talking up their hometown communities.
This very public bidding process has forced civic leaders and corporate bosses across the nation to turn on the sales charm. For the time being, many of these luminaries are selling what’s good about their respective regions compared with what has become too frequently a chorus of what’s wrong.
The change in tone was not lost on developer on Emile Haddad, chief executive of Irvine-based FivePoint Communities. He thinks, win or lose, there’s a bright side for everybody in the competition for Amazon: Reasoned discussion about economic opportunity.
“It’s nice to see the focus on the positive rather than the usual noise,” he says.
Haddad is keenly watching how the Amazon bidding pays out. And not just as boss of a major California landowner.
He thinks Amazon could be a force in rethinking how companies work with its second campus.
Amazon’s request for location bids isn’t just about the cost of facilities, doing business and staff. The proposal also speaks to a region’s quality of life and willingness to think differently. Why else request data on walkability and bike lanes, for instance?
Haddad doesn’t see Amazon creating “just buildings hosting warm bodies; this space will be disruptive.”
And if the retailing giant from Seattle is willing to consider a second West Coast home, and is serious about considering more than expenses, Haddad thinks California is a winner.
Look, the veteran developer knows the state’s strengths — and weaknesses — but he consistently applauds California’s lifestyle and business opportunities, warts and all.
“Where else would a company go if they want to attract the 50,000 best people in the world?” he says.
Now, the typically high-profile Haddad has taken a relatively low profile amid the nationwide scramble to win HQ2. Meeting Amazon’s wishlist puts Haddad in a tough spot, sort of like asking a parent which is his or her favorite child.