Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s sights set on Amazon HQ2

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Amazon’s board recently approved the e-commerce giants $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market

L. Nicole Trottie

CHICAGO | Inc. is looking for a North American city to call home-away-from-home.  Dubbed “HQ2,” the 2nd headquarters site will cost upwards of $5 billion, and employee more than 50,000 people.  Should Mayor Rahm Emanuel close the deal to land Amazon’s HQ2 in the city, Chicago will be forever transformed.  Amazon’s Seattle-based headquarters arched the city’s landscape, setting in motion an economic boom, a building frenzy and skyrocketing rents, with the average home costing more than $700,000.

Amazon’s search comes on the heels of exponential growth and expansion.  Amazon announced last week that it will acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, which will catapult the e-commerce giant into hundreds of brick and mortar stores, and which fulfills a long-held goal of entering the groceries market.

In a statement Lisa Picard, chief executive officer, Equity Office said of Amazon’s search for additional quarters, “Seattle doesn’t have enough capacity for their growth.  That’s the biggest issue.”

Mayor Emanuel joined Amazon in July of this year to open the company’s new corporate office in Chicago. Located in the Loop, the office is home to more than 200 employees today and is growing. The company plans to double the office’s footprint in the coming year.

Mayor Emanuel has met with Amazon, CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos to position Chicago as a strongest candidate for the expansion, according to a city official who will remain unnamed.

“Chicago’s unmatched workforce, world-class universities and unparalleled access to destinations throughout the world make it the perfect headquarters location for companies large and small. That’s also why Chicago has led the nation in corporate relocations for the last four years,” said Grant Klinzman, spokesman for the mayor’s office.

Amazon said Thursday that it will spend more than $5 billion to build their 2nd headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees with an average pay of more than $100,000 per year. It plans to stay in its Seattle headquarters and the new space will be “a full equal” of its current home, said Bezos.  Amazon, director communication, Kelly Cheesemen, declined to confirm or deny talks between Bezos and Mayor Emanuel.

Since expanding its footprint in Chicago in 2015, Amazon has hired thousands of full-time employees and is creating even more jobs for an estimated total of 8,000 new full-time jobs in the state by 2018.

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