Amazon officials and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reportedly dined at a local eatery this month and some observers, including Time magazine, are speculating the District will land the e-commerce giant’s second headquarters.
Neither Bowser nor Amazon officials would offer comment. However, if the company chooses the nation’s capital, it would be a boon to the city and surrounding areas as the development is expected to bring about 50,000 jobs that pay as much as $100,000 annually.
Amazon also met with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam with the governor pitching sites in Alexandria and Arlington, just outside of the District.
“We’ve had some really good discussions,” Northam said.
Company officials have also been promised by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan who has proposed a reported $5 billion incentive package for Amazon to locate its HQ2 there. Maryland officials have offered up an area in White Flint, near a Metro station.
Bowser and District officials have proposed taking the bulldozer to a parcel of land near Capitol Hill and RFK Stadium. The District also has pitched alternate sites.
However, in what can be seen as throwing cold water on the District’s hopes, Newsweek this week reported grim results from a robot developed by Wells Fargo to handicap the chase.
“Early favorite Washington DC struggled to live up to the hype, at least according to the Wells Fargo robot. The capital finished seventh on the list, just behind Austin, Texas,” Newsweek reported, based on the robot.
Many have assumed D.C. would be a front-runner since Amazon selected three cities from the area for the list of 20. Amazon has promised the second headquarters will be just as big as the original.
“It will be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” Amazon said on its website.
“In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”
Completing the top 10 was Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The only city on the list outside of the United States is Toronto.
Amazon officials are currently touring the cities to hear pitches. The company is expected to make a final decision before the end of the year, Newsweek reported.
Still, Time noted that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos “obviously loves Washington, D.C.”
Bezos, the world’s richest man with a net worth of more than $112 billion, owns The Washington Post and he recently purchased a 27,000-square-foot former museum in the District as a second home.
Amazon’s original headquarters is in Seattle. Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. are among the 20 finalists Amazon named for its HQ2 development which is scheduled to begin in earnest once a winner is picked.
Time noted that oddsmakers had previously named Atlanta or Boston as having the best chances of winding up as host to Amazon’s second headquarters.
However, the District has always been “right in the mix of favorites,” the magazine said.
What more, Atlanta may have had its chances of landing HQ2 hurt badly this month when the Georgia legislature removed a tax exemption for Delta Airlines as retaliation for the airline’s decision to end a discount program for NRA members.
Georgia has also passed legislation recently that critics say will discriminate against same-sex couples who want to adopt children or be foster parents.
Experts say that Amazon has a generally progressive corporate culture, and that Amazon and Bezos have taken stances on social issues in the past, according to Time.
In turn, Atlanta’s odds to be picked by Amazon have been damaged by the state’s recent moves. “Georgia has really hurt their Amazon bids in recent weeks,” Nathan Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said on CNN.
Another indication the D.C. area is emerging as the HQ2 front-runner is that Amazon employees are apparently paying more attention to this part of the country, according to Time and multiple other reports.
The local news site ARLNow.com, which focuses on Arlington Country, Virginia, noted that a story it published in December about an environmental award given to the county surprisingly surfaced as one of its most-viewed posts during a week in mid-February. And the vast majority of web traffic stemmed from an internal Amazon.com link page about the search for HQ2.
“Amazon is working with each HQ2 candidate city to dive deeper on their proposals and share additional information about the company’s plans,” the company said in a statement. “We’re excited to visit each location and talk about how HQ2 could benefit our employees and the local community.”