Amazon on Tuesday made it official: The company’s headquarters expansion will be in Arlington County, Virginia, and the Long Island City neighborhood of New York.
The announcement ends a 14-month search for what Amazon had originally billed as a $5 billion second headquarters campus, which the retail and technology giant aimed to staff with 50,000 workers. At some point this fall, people familiar with Amazon’s site-selection process say, the company changed course, opting to split its so-called HQ2 among more than one city.
Amazon said Tuesday that it plans to staff each of the two cities with about 25,000 workers in about 4 million square feet of office space, with an option to double that square footage sometime in the future.
The company’s existing Seattle headquarters employs about 45,000 people spread over 10 million square feet of office space.
In selecting the nation’s capital and its largest city, Amazon picked two of the few metropolitan areas in the U.S. that boast more workers employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations than Seattle does. The two sites are similar, located on spokes of each city’s transit line, across the river from the central business district, and a short distance to airports — Reagan National in Virginia, and LaGuardia in New York.
Even before Tuesday’s announcement, the two areas were home to Amazon’s biggest satellite offices east of the Mississippi. Herndon, Virginia, is the East Coast headquarters of the Amazon Web Services cloud-computing division, part of a 2,500-person contingent in the area. New York is home to expanding teams focusing on advertising and book publishing, and earlier this year had some 1,800 Amazon employees.
Amazon didn’t say what, exactly, the employees hired to staff its new offices would be working on. Splitting corporate command and control functions among multiple headquarters would be an unusual move, and outside observers speculated that the company may, at some point, choose to locate specific business units in each city, or spur that change by relocating a top executive.
Amazon’s existing corporate structure does have three titular chief executives. Reporting to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is Jeff Wilke, who runs Amazon’s retail and logistics business, and Andy Jassy, chief of Amazon Web Services.
The retailer added another twist in its Tuesday blog post announcing its selection: a 5,000-person satellite office in Nashville, Tenn. That outpost, the company said, will serve as an eastern hub for logistics work.
Tax breaks and other government incentives to support Amazon’s projects in the three cities total at least $2.4 billion, according to the figures Amazon broke out in its blog post.
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