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Portland Would Be A Long Shot For The New Amazon HQ. Or Would It?

Amazon wants a second headquarters somewhere besides Seattle, so the race among suitors is on. Does Portland have a shot at the prize, a $5B new site employing as many as 50,000 people?


Prosper Portland's Shawn Uhlman said what the region has to offer makes a compelling case for Amazon HQ2.

"For the standpoint of the deep talent pool, Portland has a flourishing tech scene, which has strong connections to the local university system — training or other programs could be put in place in collaboration with our universities without much delay."

Still, Portland faces some pretty long odds, Oregon Live reports. Competition is stiff. Boston, Denver, the Washington, D.C., area, Atlanta and other U.S. cities (and Toronto across the border) are exploring making bids.

Larger cities in larger states with larger economies than Oregon's would naturally have an edge, simply in how much money they can throw at Amazon in the form of tax breaks or other subsidies. 

Also, Amazon HQ is pretty close, and the company might want to look farther away, such as on the East Coast or the Southwest. Portland might also have trouble coming up with that many tech workers, though the city is already attracting them in greater numbers.

Prosper Portland Public Affairs and Community Engagement Manager Shawn Uhlman

Economic development specialists assert that Portland has a shot despite these factors. Amazon already has a substantial Oregon presence. The retail behemoth has a a sortation center in Hillsboro, a complex of data centers in Morrow County, and fulfillment centers coming soon in Troutdale and Salem.

Portland also has potential sites for Amazon, Uhlman said. There is suitable space in the urban core, elsewhere in the city or even in suburbs, and in the quantity that Amazon would need, he said.

"Sites we've identified include buildings that could be redeveloped, or open space for new development. Portland would offer several strong options."

Portland's proximity to Seattle does not work against the city, Uhlman said.

"Operations that have a lot of back-and-forth still need meetings and other interactions between people, in person. That's not going away. Portland would be a short flight or not a very long drive, and that would facilitate that kind of interaction."