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LAEDC to unite LA cities to lure Amazon to county




Amazon’s search for a second home has prompted local economists, city officials and others to craft a plan to lure the world’s largest internet retailer to the greater Los Angeles area.

Amazon announced Thursday that it plans to spend more than $5 billion to build a second headquarters in North America. The new operation would compliment its existing Seattle headquarters with as many as 50,000 new jobs and up to 8 million square feet of space. The company has invited representatives from major metropolitan areas to submit proposals.

All proposals are due by Oct. 19 and a decision on the new headquarters will be announced next year, Amazon officials said.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, attract and retain business in L.A. County, is serving as the point team for the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

“We’re bringing together one proposal on this,” said Carrie Rogers, the LAEDC’s senior vice president of business assistance and development. “It’s critical to have one voice with multiple options for Amazon. We pulled together an internal team of 11 people and we’re putting together a bigger team with leaders from the cities that meet Amazon’s requirements. We want to provide unique incentives and really highlight L.A. County’s strengths.”

Amazon is looking for a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent, and communities that “think big and creatively.”

Beyond that, the company is seeking a site that’s within 45 minutes of an international airport, not more than 2 miles from major highways and within 30 minutes of a major population center.

Rogers said Los Angeles County meets all of those requirements. From world-class research universities, such as Caltech, UCLA and USC, to Los Angeles International Airport, the region’s vast network of freeways and Southern California’s robust shipping ports, there’s plenty to draw Amazon here, she said.

The LAEDC is aware of some specific sites that could potentially work, but Rogers declined to reveal where they are.

“I think there are some cities that have city-owned properties that don’t show up on any of the tax rolls,” she said. “Amazon is looking for 100 acres where they could start with 500,000 square feet of space and go up to as much as 8 million square feet. The cities will have to tell us exactly what they have and what might be combined with other land to make it work.”

Amazon is considering undeveloped land in rural areas, infill sites, existing buildings or a combination of any of those as possibilities.


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The internet giant operates several large warehouses in the Inland Empire, and economist John Husing said it would make sense for the company to move its second headquarters there.

“If they want to be near the bulk of their operations in California, this is where they should be,” he said.

Husing acknowledged, however, that commute times to the downtown Los Angeles area would likely exceed Amazon’s desired window of 30 minutes. His region, he said, is currently not working on a proposal to bring Amazon there.

Eric Duyshart, Pasadena’s economic development manager, said his city would love to respond to Amazon’s call. But space? There just there isn’t enough of it.

“Their requirement to fill a half-million square feet up front and more space later is way beyond what Pasadena could accommodate,” he said. “But we really think the broader area would benefit by this with us being a piece of the puzzle.”

Alex Gonzalez, director of development services and administration for the City of Industry, said his city probably doesn’t have a site that would work either.

“I don’t think we have anything that’s viable,” he said. “But we’re working with the LAEDC and looking at all of the options.”

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s presence would give Southern California a mega-economic boost. The company’s direct investments in Seattle fueled an additional $38 billion in added investments between 2010 (when the company moved it operations there) and June of this year.

It created 40,000 Amazon jobs and another 53,000 jobs as a result of the company’s direct investments in the region. It also generated nearly $26 billion in employee compensation.

Southern California’s high housing costs would seem to be a stumbling block for a company looking to move a major operation here. But Amazon said the new employees will earn an average annual wage of more than $100,000 over the next 10 to 15 years.

Mel Wilson, broker and owner of Mel Wilson & Associates Realtors in Northridge, still thinks housing costs could be a sticking point. And he questions those salaries.

“The city of Los Angeles has a proposal that would add a $12-per-square-foot fee to residential construction and a $5-per-square-foot fee for commercial construction,” he said. “The money would go to a trust fund to help low-income renters and home buyers, but it will increase the cost of housing for middle-class residents.”



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