Steven Polivy, chairman of Akerman’s Economic Development & Incentives Practice, has been studying the habits of Amazon. And when it comes to HQ2? Polivy says that the retail giant will look first at a possible market’s labor force.
“The biggest factor for Amazon is where can they get the type of workforce they need for their HQ2?” Polivy told Midwest Real Estate News. “They need a highly sophisticated technical group of workers that is probably going to be attracted to living in a major urban area, whether that be Chicago, New York or Boston. I wouldn’t count out the Raleigh-Durham area, either, or Austin, Texas.”
What is more unlikely? Polivy says he doesn’t see Amazon building its second headquarters in a small locality where the retailer will struggle to attract a busy enough stream of qualified employees.
It’s not clear how many employees Amazon will need. But a workforce of 50,000 for a second headquarters doesn’t seem too high of a number. Whatever city in which Amazon locates its new headquarters will have to provide those workers. But it will also have to offer a high enough number of back-up workers so that Amazon can resupply its second headquarters when employees from its first hiring wave move on.
“There is tremendous turnover in this industry,” Polivy said. “To keep a workforce of 50,000, you need that steady stream. You are probably churning through it every three years. If you think Amazon needs 50,000, a city will probably need about 15,000 or 18,000 more every year to keep the level at that 50,000. And who’s to say that the 50,000 number doesn’t grow, by the way?“
When it comes to Midwest cities, Polivy says that all of them would have to be considered longshots, except for one, Chicago.
Polivy said that Chicago remains a highly credible candidate for HQ2. The city does have potential spaces for the retailer, and it also boasts the transportation infrastructure that Amazon would need.
“I think it is a very credible alternative,” Polivy said. “But I also think that New York City and Boston are very competitive, too.”