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Down But Not Out: Orange County Leaders Believe There’s Still A Chance To Land Amazon HQ2

A rendering of what Amazon HQ2 could have looked like at Irvine Spectrum

Is Orange County still in the running to land Amazon HQ2? Local and business leaders believe so.

After Amazon narrowed its list of cities or counties for its second corporate office to 20 and did not include any bids from Orange County, local leaders believe there is still a slim chance to land the e-commerce giant since neighboring Los Angeles County is still in the running.

The belief was escalated when the Orange County Register quoted an Amazon spokesman hours after the company’s shortlist was announced as saying LA’s bid “includes LA Metropolitan Area.”

“I think LA means the LA area. I don’t think Orange County is out,” Mike Harrah, a well-known Santa Ana developer who had made his own bid to Amazon, told the Register. “Unfortunately, not everybody in the world recognizes Orange County. They think Orange County is part of LA.”

Los Angeles skyline in front of San Gabriel mountains

Seattle-based Amazon announced Thursday it had narrowed its list of areas from 238 bids across North America to 20 for its HQ2. Most of the bids from cities or counties chosen came from the East Coast. The online retail giant has said it plans to invest $5B in the new corporate office and hire 50,000 people in high-paying positions.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., which is leading the county's bid to land Amazon, has not publicly disclosed the details of the bid. The LAEDC previously said the bid contains nine separate sites throughout Los Angeles County that meet Amazon’s requirements.

The Orange County bids from Harrah, the city of Irvine and a joint Orange County and LA bid from Huntington Beach and Long Beach did not make the cut. 

Still, those who live in this region know what is good for Los Angeles is also good for Orange County.

Irvine Mayor Don Wagner said he is rooting for Los Angeles and gave his support.

“The entire Southern California region would benefit by the selection of Los Angeles and we offer our cooperation to Mayor [Eric] Garcetti and his team as the bids move forward,” Wagner said in a release. “The city that is the final choice will impact an entire region economically.”

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Director of Public Relations Lawren Markle would not say if Orange County was included in LA’s bid but understands that landing HQ2 would have an impact throughout the region. 

“All I know is that the proposal LAEDC submitted on behalf of LA County is moving forward, as one of the 20 finalists,” Markle said in an email.

“We see the LA and Orange County economies as a continuum, and if Amazon selects LA, it will create a lot of opportunity for the workforce for the region, including people in Orange County,” he said. “We are optimistic, based on the tremendous assets the region offers to global companies.”