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Is Amazon Moving to Denver?

While the world's largest e-commerce site scouts a location for its second headquarters, multiple municipalities in the metro area stew on a proposal.

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Amazon—the Seattle-based tech giant and one of the largest employers in the United States—caused a stir last week when it announced it is looking to create a second headquarters in North America. What is Amazon looking for? A metro area with at least one million people, room to accommodate up to 50,000 new employees, decent public transportation and access to outdoor recreation, among other criteria.

A bidding war is likely to ensue. Soon after the announcement, cities across the country were already voicing their interest and crafting cases to lure Amazon’s “HQ2.”  It didn’t take long before pundits speculated that Denver might be a fit. In fact, when New York Times reporters crunched data from more than 25 cities in the U.S., they determined Denver would be not just a good fit, but the best location for Amazon to bring its new headquarters.

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Does the City of Denver really have space for an Amazon headquarters, or is it more likely to end up in a more spacious surrounding suburb? Per Amazon’s request, Denver and its surrounding metro-area cities must collaborate and narrow down possible sites before even submitting a proposal by the October 19 deadline. Amazon will then route the bidding process through each state’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), so each jurisdiction’s proposal (Aurora’s, for instance) will be sent to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) to ultimately be reviewed by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

In other words, Amazon isn’t necessarily going to decide where in the Denver metro area they might build the headquarters; they’ll let the Metro Denver EDC figure that out on their own. The formal bid for Amazon’s HQ2 will then have to come from OEDIT. Amazon is encouraging states and metro areas in North America to submit only one proposal per MSA, but that proposal “may contain multiple real-estate sites.”

A proposal will certainly be coming from the Denver-Metro region, says Sam Bailey, vice president of economic development for Metro Denver EDC. Bailey, who is overseeing the sight-selection process, says each jurisdiction in the region has until Friday, September 22 to make a proposal to Metro Denver EDC. Bailey expects three to six sites will be included in the proposal Metro Denver EDC sends to OEDIT and ultimately to Amazon.

“We will absolutely be bidding,” Wendy Mitchell, president and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council, wrote in a September 7 statement. “We have all the basic economic development criteria Amazon is looking for, including ample land [and] a top-educated workforce.” Mitchell also noted that utility partners in Aurora have been preparing for such projects for well over a decade, so as technology and energy demands change, the city will be ready.

Aside from confirming Aurora is planning to bid, a spokeswoman from the Aurora Economic Development Council says they are not releasing specifics about their proposal, including information about potential build sites. Aurora is already home to an Amazon fulfillment center which opened earlier this year as well as an Amazon sorting center which opened in June 2016.

According to the Denver Post, the cities of Denver and Thornton also plan to bid for HQ2, which means they’ll likely join Aurora as part of the Metro Denver EDC proposal that Amazon will review. “We’re excited about this headquarters expansion opportunity,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told the Denver Post. “This is a megaprospect, and we have already initiated conversations with our economic development partners at the state and regional level to thoroughly consider the best possible fit for Denver and the region.”

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