Business & Economy

LA is only West Coast city to be considered for Amazon's second headquarters

File: An Amazon.com worker sorts packages onto a conveyor belt at an Amazon fulfillment center on January 20, 2015 in Tracy, California.
File: An Amazon.com worker sorts packages onto a conveyor belt at an Amazon fulfillment center on January 20, 2015 in Tracy, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Amazon, which is on the hunt for a second home, said Thursday it narrowed down its list of potential cities from the 238 proposals it received. Los Angeles has made the cut — and it's the only city in California to make the list.

The online retailer kicked off its hunt for a place to build a second headquarters in September, sparking a fierce competition among cities across North America. 

Nick Wingfield, technology correspondent for the New York Times, told KPCC the headquarters has the potential to bring 50,000 high-paying technology jobs to L.A., and attract more tech companies to follow Amazon to the area.

However, with the benefits come downsides. 

"Certainly for people that are concerned about being displaced by the booming economy in L.A., it doesn't help in that respect," Wingfield said.

He also said he's not so sure Los Angeles will be chosen because Amazon may want to expand its reach geographically. 

"I think that the odds are long. It's a west coast city; it's the only west coast city that was selected here. It doesn't provide that geographic diversity."

The company plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the second home base will be "a full equal" to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had said.

The other 19 cities on the list include Newark, New Jersey, Denver, and Austin, Texas. Amazon says it will make a final selection sometime this year.

Amazon had stipulated in September that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. 

But Amazon also made clear in that it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

Some state and local governments have made public the details of the financial incentives they are dangling. Boston's offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others. Before he left office Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Christie approved a measure backed by Democrats to allow New Jersey to offer up to $5 billion to Amazon. Newark also proposes to give Amazon $2 billion in tax breaks, although the city has yet to release its application to the AP.

But many of the state and local governments competing for the headquarters have refused to disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they offered. Of the 20 finalists, 13 including New York, Chicago, and Miami declined requests from the AP to release their applications while other requests were still pending. Applications from Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, and Raleigh, North Carolina, were submitted by outside groups not typically bound by the same disclosure rules.

Nearly 20 cities and states across the U.S. that originally applied turned down requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they've made. Boston published its application online, while Philadelphia released its application to the AP, but with information on proposed tax incentives redacted.

Several say they don't want their competitors to know what they're offering, a stance that open-government advocates criticized.

The extra space will help the rapidly-growing company, which it had nearly 542,000 employees at the end of September, a 77 percent jump from the year before. Some of that growth came from Amazon's nearly $14 billion acquisition last year of natural foods grocer Whole Foods and its 89,000 employees.

This story has been updated.