Georgia Offered $2 Billion, Nine Sites For Amazon HQ2

Amazon announced Tuesday it would not choose Atlanta for its second headquarters. The Amazon store at Georgia Tech in midtown Atlanta is the first physical pick-up drop-off location in Georgia.
Amazon announced Tuesday it would not choose Atlanta for its second headquarters. The Amazon store at Georgia Tech in midtown Atlanta is the first physical pick-up drop-off location in Georgia.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Seattle-based online retail company Amazon announced Tuesday that metro Atlanta will not be home to its second headquarters (HQ2), rejecting what was an incentives package of at least $1.73 billion.

Instead, the location of Amazon’s HQ2 will be split between two other locations: Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City in the borough of Queens in New York City.

There were nine real estate sites in metro Atlanta proposed by the state of Georgia, including the Downtown South District also known as “The Gulch”:

ITP (Inside The Perimeter)

OTP (Outside The Perimeter)

There were nine real estate sites proposed by the state of Georgia, including the Downtown South District also known as The Gulch. (Credit: State of Georgia)

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also offered up to $1.8 billion in incentives for the five sites inside the city of Atlanta, according to a letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in October 2017.

It included an offer of $25 million from Invest Atlanta, $150,000 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for a flight lounge and 50 free parking spots. Other incentives that were offered included a “company-dedicated car to the MARTA train” to distribute products throughout the city, a coding program for high school students to develop an employee pipeline from Atlanta Public Schools and “access to researchers” from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The four locations outside of the city of Atlanta include the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett County, Assembly in the city of Doraville in DeKalb County, Lockheed/Dobbins near the city of Marietta in Cobb County and the Georgia Aerotropolis Corridor in the city of Chattahoochee Hills in southern Fulton County, near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Technical Talent

Omar Esposito is chief revenue officer at the Atlanta financial technology startup Stackfolio at Tech Square Labs in Midtown Atlanta.

“It’s a little bit disappointing to not have the potential technical talent come with it, but I think overall it’ll be healthier for the startup ecosystem, where we don’t have to compete for that talent,” Esposito said. “And also the strains of affordable housing, traffic and whatever else may have come from that.”

Atlanta consistently ranked among the top five cities to win the bid after it made it to the final 20 regions Amazon shortlisted, of 238 metro areas that applied. Amazon said it will invest $5 billion and create 500,000 jobs in the two locations it chose. It also announced it would create 5,000 jobs in Nashville, Tennessee, at a new operations center there.

“We enjoyed the opportunity to be part of Amazon’s search for a new headquarters location, as it gave us yet another opportunity to share with the world all that Atlanta has to offer,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “We remain a proud host city to Amazon’s current Atlanta offices and wish the company well in its new cities of choice.”

Georgia Tech Reaction

Georgia Tech and its graduates were both a common selling point to Amazon in the documents submitted by the state of Georgia. But after Amazon’s announcement on Tuesday that it would not be coming to Atlanta, some students and employees said they were not surprised.

Some said perhaps Atlanta wasn’t ready for the changes a large tech company could bring to the city.

Georgia Tech student Camille Pettit says she had mixed reactions to the news that Atlanta was not chosen as Amazon’s second headquarters. (Tasnim Shamma/WABE)

Camille Pettit (computational media student): “I heard some people say on Twitter, Atlanta ultimately dodged a bullet. While the city was willing to give it like a billion dollars’ worth of like tax breaks, it’s ultimately a good thing that it’s not coming here. While it’s like, ‘Oh, you know, job growth for the city,’ it’s still like, ‘What impact is that going to have on people?’ Is it like the right thing for the culture of the city when Atlanta already is suffering from the lack of affordable housing projects being built and stuff like that.”

William Jun (aerospace engineering student): “I always saw it as a good and bad just because it’s, I mean, obviously good it has, brings a lot of economic benefits to Georgia, but I don’t think Georgia, and Atlanta, is specifically ready for the infrastructure additions of an HQ2.”

Ted Franklin (Georgia Tech Research Institute, electrical engineer): “Not just Georgia Tech, but the Atlanta area, I think, would have been able to supply Amazon with plenty of employees. The possibility of them not being able to fill jobs here, I don’t think that had anything to do with the decision.”

Carol Rojas (industrial engineering student): “An Amazon executive came to my industrial engineering class and talked about what they were doing to improve Atlanta to get the city ready for Amazon, and they said that even if the company didn’t come here that all the investment would pay off for other companies. So I think that happened across the country. Like all these cities invested money into Amazon even though Amazon isn’t going there, there’s gonna be infrastructure for other companies to come in.”

Lindsey Drummond (psychology student): “I feel OK about it because that means housing prices won’t go up and traffic won’t get worse. I don’t think it’s a setback for Atlanta necessarily. I think Atlanta needs to work on their infrastructure first and their transportation before it can be ready to host a company like Amazon.”

Sarang Joshi (computer science student): “I’m not affected by it personally, but Georgia Tech is pretty much one of the top institutes in computer science and in like fields relevant to Amazon, machine learning, computer science, and, I mean, it would be nice if they were here as well.”

Risheeda Freeman (custodial staff): “I’m not sad. I mean, we still have Amazon online.”

Amazon already has six fulfillment and customer service centers in Georgia that employ thousands.

It leases space and built new facilities in Jefferson, Union City, Lawrenceville, Lithia Springs, Braselton and Macon.

“All Things Considered” host Jim Burress speaks with WABE’s Tasnim Shamma about what the state of Georgia and city of Atlanta offered Amazon as incentives to locate its second headquarters in metro Atlanta.