A bistate partnership that includes Portland, Beaverton, Milwaukie and Clark County, Washington, has entered the race to land Amazon’s second headquarters.
The regional economic development group Greater Portland Inc. led the application process, which pitches Amazon on sites in four spots or a potential multi-site campus spread across the four communities.
Greater Portland Inc. didn’t provide many details on the region’s application to host what the online retail giant is calling Amazon HQ2. But in a short FAQ, the agency says no formal incentives or new tax breaks have been offered to Amazon, though the application does include a list of existing financial benefits state and local governments provide businesses.
Greater Portland Inc. does not plan to release the full application “due to the confidentiality of specific site information.”
Portland leaders have acknowledged offering one of the city’s prime lots: the 13-acre home of the downtown U.S. Post Office distribution center. They’ve also downplayed the city’s efforts to land Amazon.
Milwaukie has shared the most information about the site it put on the table: 107 acres in the North Milwaukie Innovation Area, an industrial strip along McLoughlin Blvd. It’s adjacent to the Max Orange Line Tacoma station and the Springwater Corridor multi-use trail. Much of the land is currently privately owned.
The city recently completed a planning process for the area with help from Metro and intends to change the zoning to allow for more density and employment near the new max line.
“We discovered what a great asset this area is for high-intensity employment,” said Alma Flores, Community Development Director for Milwaukie.
Flores says in the multi-campus proposal that involves all four cities, Milwaukie has proposed a 31 acre site just south of the Tacoma Max station park and ride to serve as workforce housing for a hub in downtown Portland.
Several hundred communities were expected to compete for Amazon’s expansion. The company is looking to invest $5 billion in construction for a new campus that will employ up to 50,000 people.
Amazon officials have said they’re looking for a metro area with more than 1 million residents that has the potential to attract qualified, high-tech workers.
Although Portland has a well-educated workforce and a regional population of almost 2.5 million, its proximity to Amazon’s existing Seattle headquarters and unwillingness to create new tax incentives could be major disadvantages.
“A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure will be high-priority considerations for the project,” the company noted in its request for proposals.
Flores says she believes the metro region’s proposal will be competitive, given the strength of Portland’s workforce, public transit, and arts and culture scene.
“This community is poised to have open arms to this potential project here. It is a competitive process, and now it’s wait and see until the beginning of 2018,” she said.