We Are All Amazonians Now

“Do you think there’s a good chance Amazon will select Colorado for its headquarters? Are you concerned at all about the impact on the local workforce?”

Since Amazon announced on September 7 it was searching for a location in North America for a second headquarters site, those questions have been asked of me several times. My answers are ‘yes’ and ‘yes.’ But before I elaborate, here’s more background.

Amazon announced that it would make a capital investment of up to $5 billion and over 10 to 15 years employ up to 50,000 people. In the world of economic development, that’s about as big as it gets.

Instantly Denver showed up on just about everybody’s short list.

In response to this opportunity, the Colorado State Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation are submitting a proposal on behalf of the entire state.

In addition to its cool vibe, the numbers actually work in Colorado’s favor. According to the economic researchers at EMSI, Colorado ranks 6th on the Amazon Talent Index which looks at the number of tech workers and software engineers, among other things. But EMSI is quick to suggest that the two top ranked areas, San Jose and San Francisco, won’t make the cut “because of the competition for talent, the cost of living, and tight housing supply.”

That would leave Austin, New York, Dallas and Denver as the next numerically logical choices per the EMSI analysis.

EMSI looks at other data such as talent pipeline and the ability to attract and retain talent. You can find their Amazon write-up and data sets here.

The point here is that Colorado and Denver are competitive for the Amazon investment.

On the question of impact on the local workforce, the word ‘concerned’ does not rise to the same level as ‘worried.’ Dropping 50,000 job openings into a labor market would be a challenge for any region, including the ‘bigs’ on this list like New York, Dallas and Boston. But, remember is this over 10 to 15 years. The labor market would adjust.

I’d suggest you take a gander at the EMSI data.

This will be interesting to watch regardless of the final outcome. Especially the give-and-take between what communities are willing to provide in terms of incentives and what demands, if any, they place on the company relative to housing, transportation and other impacts. Interesting stuff!