STUMP » Articles » Hey Amazon: Come to Hartford, CT! » 9 September 2017, 17:28

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Hey Amazon: Come to Hartford, CT!  


9 September 2017, 17:28

So Amazon is looking to relocate its HQ:

Amazon plans to build second, ‘equal’ headquarters outside Seattle has outgrown Seattle.

The online retail giant, which employs about 40,000 people in the city after a hiring boom and urban build-out with little precedent in modern American history, is searching for a second home.

The company, still growing quickly in the city where it has been based for 22 years, said Thursday it would seek to place another headquarters somewhere in North America starting in 2019. Amazon says it expects to spend upward of $5 billion on a new corporate campus, and house as many as 50,000 employees there.

The Amazon Spheres rest beneath Day One, the dominant building owned by the company downtown, on Thursday, August 17, 2017 in downtown.

The new headquarters will “be a full equal” to Amazon’s Seattle base, chief executive Jeff Bezos said. “We’re excited to find a second home.”

Amazon plans to hire new executives and teams in the second headquarters, and to give senior leaders the option of locating their existing groups in one or both campuses. Employees currently working in Seattle, Amazon said, may have an opportunity to choose to work from the new headquarters.

The company now occupies 8.1 million square feet of office space in the company’s sprawling Seattle campus, and the company is on track to grow that physical footprint by half in the next five years.

Do I have a deal for you!



First, let us consider what Amazon says it’s looking for:

In choosing the location for HQ2, Amazon has a preference for:
- Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
- A stable and business-friendly environment
- Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
- Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options

HQ2 could be, but does not have to be:
- An urban or downtown campus
- A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus
- A development-prepped site. We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline

I realize this is just a wishlist.

But the time is awesome for Amazon to pick Hartford, CT for multiple reasons.

Most specifically, because Hartford is probably going to declare bankruptcy. Oh, and the state of Connecticut has messed-up finances in general.

No – wait – don’t run away!


Before I address the public finance issue (and this is a key issue), I want to not-snarkily explain the advantages of locating specifically in downtown Hartford.

First, Hartford is convenient to both Boston and NYC. You can drive or take a train – either way.

If the Rhode Island party life is more your style – hey, why not? Very easy to do. I visited RI a couple times this summer, and it’s a great place for summering.

Second, Aetna is moving its HQ to NYC, and while it says it’s keeping its Hartford location…. I can see Aetna being very happy to give up its monstrous building/plot to Amazon for the right price. And that price may be fairly good.

I also hear that ESPN, HQed in Bristol, CT, has not been doing well, and maybe that’s something Amazon can relieve Disney of….

Third, money. Money money money, as in individual wealth.

There are lots of rich kids at prep schools in Connecticut. There are lots of rich people in Connecticut in general. You’ve got Yale University and the University of Connecticut as the two major universities in CT. There’s some lesser lights like Wesleyan, too.

Lots of the kids leave CT for cooler places, of course, but if Amazon picks Hartford, they’ll make Hartford cool again.

Yes, Seattle real estate is expensive. So is CT’s, so you won’t have sticker shock really.

But you want access to money from the world of finance? Those hedge fund guys are here. Well, not in Hartford, but they’re on the coast.

I want you thinking a second Gilded Age. Mark Twain moved to Hartford in that period just to live next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe. You should check out his house – it’s really nifty. Take a virtual stroll!

Lots of the movers & shakers of the U.S. located themselves in Hartford specifically in that magical period of the late 19th century, when all sorts of fortunes were made. (I just learned that Twain basically married his wealth, more than produced it. He was a nobody when he moved to Hartford… but he had a really rich wife. Nothing wrong with that.)

Oh, and you may miss kayaking on Lake Washington, but there are marinas galore and EVERYBODY SAILS!

East coast skiing (snow or water) ain’t that great, I hear, but the sailing up here is awesome. Maybe y’all would be interested in riding horses? Maybe come out a bit more into the rural areas…

Fourth, you’ll like the politics here just fine. You might be uncomfortable if you place yourself in more stodgy, traditional areas in the South or Midwest. Why not try old Yankee values? We care about good food, good booze, and dammit the streets better be plowed when it snows.


Earlier, I mentioned Hartford is on the brink of bankruptcy. Part of that is political posturing, but a lot of it is very real.

If Amazon moved in, they would be filling in some empty spaces.

Hartford Metro Area Has Country’s 10th-Largest Population Loss

Hartford Metro Area Has Country’s 10th-Largest Population Loss

The Hartford metro area — which includes Hartford, Tolland and Middlesex counties — had the country’s 10th-largest population loss from July 2014 to July 2015, according to U.S. Census data. The area was listed just behind Flint, Mich., a city that recently went through a contaminated water crisis.

Others in the top 10 — or really, bottom 10 — included Chicago; Pittsburgh; Youngstown, Ohio; Cleveland; and Charleston, W.Va.

Greater Hartford lost about 1,901 people over the course of a year, or about 0.2 percent. The New Haven metro area lost 1,768 people, also a 0.2 percent loss. The New London metro area lost 880, a 0.3 percent loss.

Okay, compared with tens of thousands of people to be hired, this is nothing.

Connecticut’s major cities have been shrinking for years, but most of the exiting residents were moving to nearby suburbs. In Greater Hartford, there has been no growth over the past five years, with a net of 1,063 people leaving. The Census counted 1.2 million people in the region in 2010.

“People, they vote with their feet,” said Peter Francese, a demographer who studies New England and lives in New Hampshire.

“They go to places where they perceive the opportunity is better,” he said. “The perception is life is better in Virginia, life is better in North Carolina, life is better in Texas.”

Just in 2014, Hartford County had 149 residents move to Wake County, home to Raleigh, N.C., while just 71 moved here from there. Ten years ago, metro Raleigh’s job base was 14 percent smaller than Hartford’s. But by January, metro Raleigh had 18 percent more jobs than metro Hartford.

“Connecticut and Vermont and to some extent New Hampshire are extremely expensive places to do business,” Francese said.

William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, said all of the Northeast and Midwest have had domestic migration losses for a generation, as residents, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, leave for warmer climates with faster-growing economies. But immigration has been higher than those losses in much of the Northeast, including Connecticut.

Okay, I understand you see this is not going to be a cheap place to be.

But that’s for right now. If Amazon moved in, they could dictate some terms, and maybe change some of the “really expensive places to do business”.

A big part, though, is that it is inherently expensive to live where it snows a lot and it needs to be plowed. Also, heating isn’t cheap, and it’s far more necessary than A/C.


Powerline has a nice little grab bag of remarks from the story.


Amazon: “Separate but Equal” Headquarters? No sooner does the Seattle City Council propose a city income tax than Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, announces this morning that it intends to set up a “separate” (but equal!) headquarters somewhere outside of Seattle, and is in the process of soliciting bribes “incentive packages” from interested states and municipalities. Where to start with the hilarity of this?

The best part of the Seattle Times story are the comments:

Hah. Why open a second HQ? Who does that? This is designed to be a relocation, not a 2nd. Seattle will soon become the “West Coast Division”, especially after costs are assessed. . .

Look at Boeing! Don’t you get it, Seattle and WA State don’t make sense for mammoth companies, not a friendly business environment. . .

Nice work Seattle City Clowncil! Keep biting the hands that feed you and soon the food will stop coming. Terrible politics and the attitude of “for profit” businesses being evil is going to slow the rate at which some tech companies rush to Seattle and/or expand within the city of Seattle. . .

A proposed city income (which will be overturned, but tried again), a horrid redesign of the Mercer that almost made traffic worse, etc… Keep piling it on and see how things turn out in the next decade. . .

Congrats to Comrade Sawant and the rest of the City Council. You just forced the most liberal tech titan in America to look for a new headquarters that is “business friendly.”

So… you know what you’re leaving.


About the Hartford politics: both the Democrats and Republicans of Connecticut are rather sedate. Yes, people do harrumph from time, but it’s not as bad as Seattle. We don’t have the black bloc anarchists (yet).

(Uh, don’t ask me about corrupt politicians here. That’s to be expected when so much money is sloshing around.)

The Dems and Repubs both looooove the rich people in Hartford. The rich people are the main drivers in Connecticut, and the politicians know it.

But yes, it’s high tax. But y’all are used to high tax already! We just won’t make you feel bad about being rich!


Don’t listen to the siren song of Chicago, Baltimore, etc. For one, Hartford has a much lower murder rate than those cities!

Arlington?! Do you really want to be near DC?

Dallas — you know Texas would make you uncomfortable.

Denver…. okay. You got me there. Denver is way cool (even without the pot). But it doesn’t have Yale or UConn, so HAH.

Indianapolis or Kansas City? Come on. Too far from the coast without the coolness of Denver.

Minnesota… hmmm. Yeah, they’ve got those lakes. That’s neat. But no UConn.

Philadelphia — man, Philly is a great place that really needs some cleaning up. Amazon could be a help.

Pittsburgh… I really don’t actually know much about Pittsburgh, other than it’s too far from the coast.

Toronto?! No. You may as well move to Vancouver if you’re going to Canada.


Look, I understand you may be wary of a state with a history as delineated here.

But, look: you will get your own, personal oversight from government employees.

In any case, Connecticut is so dependent on a very few people for a large portion of their revenue, they keep extremely close tabs on those people:

‘Connecticut, home to some of the richest Americans, has a big stake in the billions of dollars in revenue their income taxes generate. State tax officials track quarterly estimated payments of 100 high net-worth taxpayers and can tell when payments are down. Of that number, about a half-dozen taxpayers have an effect on revenue that’s noticed in the legislature and the state Department of Revenue Services.

‘“There are probably a handful of people, five to seven people, who if they just picked up and went, you would see that in the revenue stream,” said Kevin Sullivan, the state’s revenue services commissioner.’

I bet you can get private numbers to the governor. Chop chop.

‘Two years ago, tax officials were alarmed that a super-rich hedge fund owner might leave and reduce the state’s income tax revenue. They met with the unidentified taxpayer. The effort was partly successful, with the taxpayer’s leaving Connecticut but agreeing to keep the hedge fund here.’

Don’t worry about getting lost up here. They’re used to the finance people, and may be even more starry-eyed about getting tech-related stuff.

Connecticut is known for insurance, hedge funds, and Colt guns. Once upon a time, these were cool and cutting edge.

So while you’re being wined-and-dined by Denver, just keep in mind that Denver is cool without you. Amazon would make Hartford cool again.

You can own Hartford.

You can own the state.

Just think about it. That’s all I ask.

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