Jeff Bezos’ $136 billion voice-enabled delivery service opened solicitations this month to find a location that could host the company’s second North American headquarters, aptly dubbed “HQ2.” Yesterday, County Executive Rob Astorino delivered Westchester’s sales pitch … by drone.
Amazon’s requirements for the $5 billion, half-million square foot corporate space are specific: the location must exist in a metropolitan area with more than a million people, have urban and suburban areas, have access to mass transit and major highways, and be within at least 45 minutes of an international airport. Most importantly, because the facility would create upwards of 50,000 lucrative new jobs, the area has to have a reputation for a stable business environment that retains talented professionals.
“Westchester has everything Amazon is looking for and more,” Astorino said as he laid out his argument on behalf of the county, “Talent, accessibility, quality of life, value, and locations, locations, locations.”
Westchester is one of the most educated counties in the United States, with 47% of adults aged 25 or older holding collegiate or advanced degrees. The county has three Metro-North lines, Amtrak and BeeLine service, multiple major highways, and its own airport — as well as easy access to JFK, Laguardia, Newark, and Stewart international airports.
“No other location offers proximity to New York City, but with office space at half the price,” said Astorino. “It’s no accident that global business leaders like IBM, PepsiCo, Regeneron and MasterCard have their world headquarters in Westchester.”
Plenty of corporate space is available in cities such as White Plains, Mount Vernon, and Somers, the latter of which houses former IBM and PepsiCo locations, as Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey was quick to point out.
Many Westchester communities have been pushing revitalization initiatives in recent years, seeking to draw in a younger generation of permanent residents. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University pointed out that “Westchester County is a vibrant area for tech savvy young people, filled with educational institutions and employers ready to hire recent graduates.” Demand for cybersecurity professionals, he says, is rapidly growing: three times faster than the rest of IT specialties and twelve times the average national job market.
If Bezos and company are looking for a conveniently located, stable community of tech-savvy residents, Astorino says they can stop shopping around.
“Amazon laid out the criteria and Westchester matches them, making Westchester the smart choice for Amazon.”