When Amazon announced its plans for a second North American headquarters, cities throughout the country began to salivate over the prospect of becoming its home — and they should. An investment of $5 billion locally, adding 50,000 new jobs with average salaries in the six-figure range would be transformational for any community.
It’s no wonder that so many luminaries in Orange County are wildly optimistic about the prospect of Amazon HQ2 moving here, and are beginning to mobilize to submit a bid to lure the massive online retailer to our community.
Landing the headquarters of a cutting-edge technology behemoth disrupting the global economy is exactly what Orange County needs as the next step of our community’s social, cultural and economic evolution.
In many ways, Orange County is the perfect location for Amazon. Yet, a few armchair skeptics believe that the O.C. doesn’t measure up to this challenge. Even the New York Times, in a recent report, listed other parts of Southern California as potential locations, but failed to even mention O.C.
For those uninitiated and unfamiliar with our locale, it’s typical to lump us in as part of Los Angeles. Too often, O.C. is inaccurately labeled as a bedroom community, or suburb, of Los Angeles, yet more workers commute from Los Angeles to Orange County than the other way around. That’s partially because O.C.’s job market is far better. Orange County’s unemployment rate is lower than Los Angeles County’s — and has been for some time, according to data tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
No doubt L.A.’s population, media market and mythology get it the lion’s share of attention, but Orange County, and its 3 million-plus residents, is no side dish.
If Orange County were its own country, it would rank as the 45th-largest economy in the world, with a gross county product (the localized equivalent of gross domestic product) upwards of $200 billion. And, if we were our own state, we’d be around the 29th most populous in the nation.
In terms of business climate, hosting Amazon’s second HQ makes a lot of sense, but it is not just economics that makes this community enticing, it’s also the workforce.
Orange County is in the middle of one of the nation’s hubs for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates. Our geography makes us a hub for recruiting from anywhere in Southern California — from L.A. to O.C. to San Diego to the Inland Empire.
That hub produces…