GRLaker

Amazon looking for a city to put HQ2

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GRLaker    248
1 hour ago, scottythe1nonly said:

they could get 10 square blocks in detroit for free.  why would they build here?

More desirable area to live? The ability to pay lower wages than Detroit allows? Switch being in their backyard? Regional economic stability? There are plenty of advantages of being in Grand Rapids over Detroit.

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GRLaker    248
4 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

Two of their requirements are direct access to mass-transit, and to be no more than 1-2 miles from a highway.

That's going to narrow locations considerably. Likely against anything outside of the ITP zone, unless a special route is created, because we have no rail options.

Caledonia Twp and Byron Twp would allow for easy access to US 131 and M6 and an extension of the Rapid Silverline for employees living downtown. 

Edited by GRLaker

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wingbert    490
13 minutes ago, KCLBADave said:

The bigger question is could our region fulfill 50,000 new jobs?

The article I read said the second HQ "could eventually" house up to 50,000.  So the impact wouldn't be immediate and there'd theoretically be time to absorb the growth.  In looking at the kind of architecture Amazon has embraced in Seattle I have to wonder what kind of pushback they'd get from the local powers that be who have shown a preference for variations on the same beige box theme of late.  I mean, look at that proposed addition to Grand Valley's Cook Devos building.  That makes it look like our architectural design thinking is going backwards.  Maybe something like Amazon is just what we need to start pushing the envelope.

696675222.0.jpg

Amazon HQ in Seattle

Edited by wingbert

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WMrapids    247
4 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

8 Million square feet? Wouldn't that be a 1000 story building on that site? :)

Old GM site in Wyoming?

Edit: Actually the Apple Spaceship is 2.8 million square feet alone, so it would be 2.8 of those. If you want a more local example, it would be eight Grand Castles. That thing is 1 million square feet and 200 feet tall! The Steelcase Pyramid was 600,000 square feet, so it would be 13 pyramids!

Edited by WMrapids
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GRDadof3    1832
2 hours ago, KCLBADave said:

The bigger question is could our region fulfill 50,000 new jobs?

I tend to agree, I think it's kind of ridiculous to think that they would consider a metro of just 1 Million. Employed persons is usually about half of a metro population, so 500,000 (GR's  is 554,000 right now). That means they'd be 10% of the local workforce of whatever metro they chose, all basically working in tech/fulfillment/white collar).  If they announced next week that they were building their 2nd HQ's in Birmingham, AL or Rochester, NY or even Jacksonville FL, you'd think Amazon/Bezos had gone crazy.  Even if they had a 10 year plan to get up to 20,000 employees, to recruit and logistically move 2000 people a year would be a mind-boggling endeavor, because you're certainly not going to find 2000 highly qualified people sitting around on their hands in Grand Rapids. 

I certainly love this area and what it has to offer, but this seems like a giant (ridiculous) leap. 

 

 

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MJLO    342
1 hour ago, GRDadof3 said:

I tend to agree, I think it's kind of ridiculous to think that they would consider a metro of just 1 Million. Employed persons is usually about half of a metro population, so 500,000 (GR's  is 554,000 right now). That means they'd be 10% of the local workforce of whatever metro they chose, all basically working in tech/fulfillment/white collar).  If they announced next week that they were building their 2nd HQ's in Birmingham, AL or Rochester, NY or even Jacksonville FL, you'd think Amazon/Bezos had gone crazy.  Even if they had a 10 year plan to get up to 20,000 employees, to recruit and logistically move 2000 people a year would be a mind-boggling endeavor, because you're certainly not going to find 2000 highly qualified people sitting around on their hands in Grand Rapids. 

I certainly love this area and what it has to offer, but this seems like a giant (ridiculous) leap. 

 

 

First and foremost I agree that it's a giant fanciful leap.  To your point about our current labor force and the ability for it to absorb that many jobs, I think population growth is being over looked.  Were something like this to actually transpire I think there would be a surge in population.  The labor force size would surge in numbers as candidates would be attracted to the area.  Not to mention that like all other companies Amazon would have a recruit network nationally/internationally.  What we are talking about here are market driven forces.  The real likeliness that Amazon would ever consider locating a major corporate presence in Grand Rapids Michigan is probably about the same odds as winning the power ball.  The ripple affect of a presence like that would propel the area into the echelon of city it's trying to become.(which would obviously be awesome) I do think a strong case can be made for Detroit, especially when considering Jeff Bezos tendency toward making social statements.  I'll be sad if this ends up in a stereo typical cliche trendy city like Austin, Raleigh or Atlanta.

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Quercus    44

It is fun to imagine if/how something like this could fit into Grand Rapids. The RFP paragraph regarding sustainability initiatives is great; GR can really align with that.

Looking at the preferences in the RFP, I see GR coming up short with:

  • Proximity to international airport. Yes, GRR is international, but as others have mentioned the direct flights are pretty limited. "Travel time to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. is also an important consideration."
  • "Direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes." The Rapid is a great system but Amazon is probably looking for more options. I can see them selecting a site as a major TOD anchor.
  • "Ensuring optimal fiber connectivity is paramount at our HQ2 location." Not sure how GR stacks up here. If only Google Fiber had come through!

Detroit would certainly be interesting. Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Toronto...Amazon will be receiving a number of viable options. The announcement is already generating so much excitement I think there will be plenty of communities tripping over themselves to offer up every tax credit and grant known to man; that is a dangerous game!

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GRDadof3    1832
12 hours ago, Quercus said:

It is fun to imagine if/how something like this could fit into Grand Rapids. The RFP paragraph regarding sustainability initiatives is great; GR can really align with that.

Looking at the preferences in the RFP, I see GR coming up short with:

  • Proximity to international airport. Yes, GRR is international, but as others have mentioned the direct flights are pretty limited. "Travel time to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. is also an important consideration."
  • "Direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes." The Rapid is a great system but Amazon is probably looking for more options. I can see them selecting a site as a major TOD anchor.
  • "Ensuring optimal fiber connectivity is paramount at our HQ2 location." Not sure how GR stacks up here. If only Google Fiber had come through!

Detroit would certainly be interesting. Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Toronto...Amazon will be receiving a number of viable options. The announcement is already generating so much excitement I think there will be plenty of communities tripping over themselves to offer up every tax credit and grant known to man; that is a dangerous game!

I think no matter who gets this project, there's going to be a lot of infrastructure built around it, with assistance from local and state governments. There would have to be. Where can you find that amount of property in the U.S. that's "plug-n-play" easily accessible to subways or trains, dense population and fiber in a vibrant growing metro area?  I don't think you could, or it'd be extremely difficult to assemble enough of it. You can easily add bus lines to serve this campus, some metros may even get funding to expand light rail to a campus this size. Amazon actually bought and installed a light rail train in Seattle to serve that campus. 

"Proximity to international airport" could be accommodated here. It would just take some massive subsidization to get either a) more airlines here operating basically with free rent or b) get the current airlines to expand service  by throwing a bunch of money at them to subsidize the expansions. Shoot, you could probably get Grand Action to fund an entire private hangar for Amazon like Amway has. 

In other words, State economic development agencies could hypothetically promise the moon for a project like this, if it returns $20 - $30 - $40 Billion in economic spinoff to an area. Grand Rapids metro's entire gross domestic product is around $54 billion this year, for comparison sake.  It would double our economy, essentially. 

There's a company locally called Acentek that is laying fiber all over Eastern Ottawa County right now. Super high speed from what I hear. 

They need to get the owner of Switch, Rob Roby into a room with Jeff Bezos. He apparently fell in love with Grand Rapids during an ArtPrize visit. 

I wonder if this is even on the radar at anyone at the city...  MEDC may go after this pretty heavily but there's no guarantee they'd include GR in the mix of options. They'd probably showcase Ann Arbor or Detroit. 

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WMrapids    247
5 hours ago, GRBorn said:

I like how they state that no matter the outcome, it's nice that the community is coming together to work on this proposal. They said that there is enough space downtown for this proposal somehow if they include open parking lots and existing buildings. It would be great that they keep plans drawn up for this proposal for other options as well so they can have something to offer others in the future if needed.

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dadr    4

I like that people here are organizing to think big on this. If GR gets PR from this then it will benefit the area's image and might attract people on its own. 

However there is no realistic chance for something this scale in GR. Sadly I think of the poor road infrastructure as a huge limitation, really to any more growth here. If GR continues to grow without huge proactive investments in roads (and ancillary road improvements like bus lanes, bike lanes, HOV lanes, etc.) the quality of life here will start to go down as traffic goes up. 

In addition, I like GRR and it does provide good nonstop access for a city this size, but is not enough of a hub for a massive west coast company  to plant a huge operation here. 

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MJLO    342
On 9/9/2017 at 11:05 AM, dadr said:

 

In addition, I like GRR and it does provide good nonstop access for a city this size, but is not enough of a hub for a massive west coast company  to plant a huge operation here. 

This is the only thing in your statement that I'd challenge.  The only reason there aren't non stop routes to Pacific coastal cities is because the demand isn't currently there to justify it.  If a company like Amazon planted roots here, you'd be lying to yourself if you thought the airlines wouldn't work to accommodate the demands.  GRR is not near it's capacity and could certainly handle  more flights.

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Sparty97    23
On 9/9/2017 at 3:32 PM, MJLO said:

This is the only thing in your statement that I'd challenge.  The only reason there aren't non stop routes to Pacific coastal cities is because the demand isn't currently there to justify it.  If a company like Amazon planted roots here, you'd be lying to yourself if you thought the airlines wouldn't work to accommodate the demands.  GRR is not near it's capacity and could certainly handle  more flights.

The direct route requirements were New York, Washington D.C, Seattle and the Bay area.  

GRR has direct flights to New York (LaGuardia and Newark) and Washington D.C. (Nat'l and Dulles) but it lacks the direct Seattle and Bay area flights.   I could see those two cities added if they came, but I don't know if one of the requirements is that they are already established routes.  We do have direct flights to Phoenix and Las Vegas, I imagine it would not take a lot more effort to get those established.
http://www.grr.org/nonstop-routes.php

The cost of living, proximity to the Switch datacenter, proximity to Lake Michigan/beaches, cool beer/art scene, etc. could help.  

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If something like this came here it would be a massive drain on the local and state coffers.  The city/state that gets it will be the one that GIVES away the most public resources to Amazon.  

Let Tulsa or some other city buy off Amazon.  We don't need this.  

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x99    365
On 9/11/2017 at 11:37 AM, Sparty97 said:

GRR has direct flights to New York (LaGuardia and Newark) and Washington D.C. (Nat'l and Dulles) but it lacks the direct Seattle and Bay area flights.   I could see those two cities added if they came, but I don't know if one of the requirements is that they are already established routes.  We do have direct flights to Phoenix and Las Vegas, I imagine it would not take a lot more effort to get those established.
http://www.grr.org/nonstop-routes.php

Something tells me flights on the "bring your own seat cushion" airline known as Allegiant don't count.  :P

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Floyd_Z    33

I just really don't see this coming to GR or Detroit.  When I first heard about it I thought about Detroit, then GR.  GR is just too small and when amazon says they want mass transit they mean they want a train/metro hub at their headquarters.  I don't think a rapid or even BRT would cut it.  Also, as mentioned before, the Ford is not an international airport.  Amazon operates over the entire globe, if every flight would have to connect in Detroit or Chicago, why not just locate there to begin with?  

I don't think Detroit will get it, because of their lack of mass transit.  The majority citizens of metro Detroit recently voted down a regional mass transit bill.  The only way I could see it coming to the D is if Gilbert can somehow convince them.  That being said, I think Detroit is far more likely to get it than GR, but I think neither will be chosen.  The NY times narrowed it down by criteria and chose Denver, which I think would be a perfect choice, I'm just not sure how far east they wanted it or if that even matters.

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GRDadof3    1832

I had an interesting discussion with someone yesterday, talking about the premise of "Do we want Amazon here?" Grand Rapids has built quite a reputation for locally owned businesses, so much so that the LocalFirst model was one of the first in the country and they now travel nationally instituting similar membership organizations. Amazon is the antithesis of local, and dropping their HQ2 here would actually drown the local economy and local businesses, potentially. 

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