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Could NYC be a contender for Amazon’s new North American headquarters?

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The $5 billion development could bring 50,000 jobs to a North American city

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Amazon's three giant glass biosphere Domes under construction in the Denny Triangle area of Downtown Seattle.
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images

In the past few years, New York City has positioned itself as an East Coast rival to Silicon Valley, with many tech companies—from small start-ups to behemoths like Google, whose second-largest office is in Manhattan—setting up shop in the city.

New York City has, in turn, attempted to foster this reputation by creating more educational and commercial spaces where this kind of work can take place. Cornell Tech’s new campus on Roosevelt Island and the forthcoming innovation center in Union Square will provide educational and networking opportunities; meanwhile, developments like the Norman Foster-designed tech complex in Red Hook are hoping to attract even more innovative firms.

But it looks like the city may want to make an even bigger push for tech dominance. On the heels of Amazon’s big announcement that it is planning its first headquarters beyond its Seattle home base, Crain’s reports that New York is looking at a bid for the corporate giant’s new headquarters. The CEO of Empire State Development, which looks at new business opportunities for New York state, told Bloomberg News that the state “will be doing everything we can to attract Amazon HQ2.”

And per CNBC, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said that “New York City has the most innovative and diverse tech sector in the nation. We are very interested in the possibility of Amazon locating a headquarters in the five boroughs, and believe the city's competitive advantages position it well.”

According to Amazon’s press release about HQ2, the company estimates that the new complex could bring as many as 50,000 jobs with an average salary of around $100,000/year to the city it calls home. That doesn’t even account for the billions that the company could bring in revenue to a city—according to its own estimates, “every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s economy overall.”

Amazon’s request for proposals (RFP) outlines a few key assets that bidding cites will need, including a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” close proximity to airports and mass transit, near plenty of universities, and a possible site size of around 8 million square feet.

New York, of course, has the population; it has the transit infrastructure; it has the talent pool (see: Cornell Tech); and there are certainly places within the five boroughs, or in nearby New Jersey or Connecticut, where such a complex could be built. But it would also have to be willing to provide financial incentives to bring Amazon to the East Coast; the Wall Street Journal reports that “Amazon has received more than $1 billion in incentives since 2000 from state and local governments to help the company build its warehouses.”

Unsurprisingly, though, it’s not the only city that is clamoring for Amazon’s attention; Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are among the places that have already expressed interest. They’ve got a little more than a month to make their cases—the RFP deadline is October 19.