Amazon announced in a press release earlier this month that the company is looking for a location to build their second corporate headquarters. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin believes Madison would be the right fit.
According to the proposal request, Amazon will be looking to create a second headquarters, hire around 50,000 employees and spend $5 billion in capital expenditures to build and maintain the facility.
Amazon released a set of guidelines of what they are looking for in a possible headquarters location. These standards include a metropolitan population of one million people, a 45 minute travel time to an international airport, public transportation, a close proximity to highways and the availability of buildings for the headquarters itself.
Mayor Soglin said Madison would make an excellent location for the new Amazon headquarters based on these guidelines.
“You have to assume that the employees interested in Amazon are a cadre of people who find Seattle attractive, Soglin said. “When you leave the West Coast, those same people find Madison attractive.”
While Madison itself doesn’t meet the population requirement, the city and its surrounding areas would, Soglin said.
By including Dodge and Jefferson Counties, or considering cities such as Janesville, Beloit and Baraboo, Wisconsin could have a statistical area that exceeded 1 million people and met Amazon’s requirements, Soglin said.
In addition to the population requirement, Soglin addressed the distance to international airports.
The Dane County Airport is not an international airport, and Madison does not have direct access to one, Soglin said. Madison is, however, a 45-minute flight away from three international airports in Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago.
“Having access to those three airports means that we are as close to the international community as any location in the United States,” Soglin said. “We clearly exceed the number of international flights of east and west coast cities.”
Soglin said Madison has many things to offer Amazon outside of these requirements. The company is seeking large populations of tech-savvy millennials, and he said Madison could provide that. Technology companies, such as Epic Systems, would work in Madison’s favor.
The move to Madison would also benefit Amazon in that they would be able to utilize the Madison-area institutions that already exist, Soglin said. Amazon could take advantage of the presence of the University of Wisconsin as well as the tech companies in the area.
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UW professor of urban and regional planning, Alfonso Morales believed Madison would be a positive business move for the company.
“I think [Amazon would] be a positive move, but I’m not sure he can convince Amazon to come here,” Morales said. “The question is, would Amazon attract young professionals and keep them in Wisconsin.”
Soglin said Amazon’s presence in Madison could benefit the city by bringing quality jobs that pay well, offer benefits and help employees prepare for retirement.
Amazon will be accepting proposals for metropolitan areas to apply until Oct. 19. The location will be chosen and announced in 2018.