Grand Rapids pursuing Amazon HQ, 50,000 jobs


GRAND RAPIDS (WOOD) — Amazon’s search for a second headquarters in North America is feeling more like a game show.

On Friday, economic development leaders in the city of Grand Rapids said they wanted to play.

The stakes are huge: $5 billion in economic benefits and 50,000 jobs that pay, on average, $100,000, according to Amazon.

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth announced Thursday that it was looking for a site for a second headquarters it has dubbed Amazon HQ2.

It’s conducting an unusual public search, asking for proposals, including tax breaks, from metro areas with at least 1 million people.

The Grand Rapids area qualifies.

The Grand Rapids-based Right Place Inc. is taking the lead in pursuing Amazon.

Right Place Vice President Tim Mroz told 24 Hour News 8 that the economic development group is working with others, including the city and the state of Michigan.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said the city was “actively pursuing” Amazon.

Amazon said it plans to start with 500,000 square feet of space in 2019, then up to 8 million square feet by 2027.

Already some cities reportedly have expressed interest, including Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Kansas City, Sacramento and now, Grand Rapids.

CNBC looked at the 42 cities big enough to qualify, including Grand Rapids.

Based on Amazon’s criteria, it found that cities like Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston could be good fits.

Amazon said it has a “preference” not only for metro areas with 1 million people, but a “stable and business-friendly environment,” an area with the potential to attract and keep technical talent and “communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

Among the challenges facing Grand Rapids: The company wants a site within 45 minutes of an international airport with direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport doesn’t have direct flights to Seattle or San Francisco.

Amazon is asking cities and economic development groups to submit proposals by Oct. 19.

The company plans to announce a winner next year.