Leander and Cedar Park and the Austin-Round Rock area are in the running to secure the next Amazon headquarters, which could mean a population boom and billions in revenue, city officials said.
Last week, the Austin Chamber of Commerce submitted their bid to the Seattle-based retail giant. Included in the bid were 40 to 50 locations in the region, including sites in Leander and Cedar Park, said Mike Berman, SVP of communications for the greater austin chamber.
According to several national reports — from sources such as Moody’s Analytics and The New York Times — the Austin area appears to be a top contender against other cities such as Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. The company has said it will make its selection sometime in 2018.
The affordability, quality of life and high amount of skilled, young workers in Austin make it a strong contender, and a large portion of Cedar Park’s workforce has a bachelor’s degree or higher, said Phil Brewer, Cedar Park director of economic development. That, coupled with the town’s small town feel and close access to Austin via US 183 give it an edge.
Amazon promises $5 billion in capital expenditures for the community it chooses for its second headquarters. If Amazon were to pick the Cedar Park area, it would greatly impact the business environment in several indirect ways, Brewer said.
“(Getting Amazon) would position the community to be in the running for other tech projects and companies,” Brewer said. “Several new companies could start up as an addition and all of their support businesses. Then there’s all the additional hotels and restaurants it would bring.”
Amazon said it plans to hire 50,000 employees throughout the next 10 to 15 years — with many making six-figure incomes. While that number closely resembles the current population of Leander, that growth plan matches the plan for the city, said Mark Willis, Leander economic development director.
“It would stretch our resources a bit, but the fact that they are doing in stages it could be done efficiently here,” he said.
While Leander doesn’t have any existing buildings that could be turned into a second headquarters, there is a lot of land ready for development near the city’s Transit Oriented District and MetroRail station. Leander landowners expressed openness to working with Amazon if they were interested, Willis said.
“It’s a long shot for Leander, but we threw our hat in the ring and put our best foot forward,” Willis said. “At this point, I’m not holding my breath and we’ve got other things to work on. If they come and take a look though, I think we’d have a fair shot. We’ve got a good story to tell here.”
Amazon's request asked for sites in or near large metro areas with more than 1 million people, access to highways, an international airport and mass transit, and has indicated a preference for downtown locations.
The competition remains steep, as Austin joins 237 other cities throughout North America all competing to get the bid.
“Someone asked me ‘Is this the Bachelor? Are going to get the rose?’” Berman said. “We hope to get the rose.”
|Amazon Requirements||Leander||Cedar Park|
|Within 30 miles of a metropolitan area with more than one million people
||27.5 miles||20.6 miles|
|Within 45 minutes of an international airport||45-60 minutes||32-40 minutes|
|Access to major highways||Yes||Yes|
|Access to mass transit on site||MetroRail and growth of Transit Oriented District||No|
|An urban or suburban location with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
||University of Texas & Austin Community College||University of Texas & Austin Community College