The County of Riverside wants Amazon to expand its presence in the region and offered multiple potential sites in a proposal submitted Thursday (10/19), along with $12.8 million in local incentives to entice the online retailer to open its second corporate headquarters here.
The 106-page bid highlights the diversity, affordability and business-friendly environment of the region, where Amazon already has three distribution centers. With all of the fun in the sun that Southern California is known for without the high cost of living and housing shortage of the coastal communities, Riverside County is the logical choice for Amazon.
“We have affordable housing in one of the nation’s most expensive regions. We live between the beaches and the mountains. We have the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, a strong economy, and we continue to grow,” said Riverside County Board Chairman John Tavaglione. “There’s no question that Riverside County should be prominent on Amazon’s radar.”
The proposal includes nearly $12.8 million in incentives above and beyond what the State of California is offering to attract Amazon to the state. Riverside County can provide $400,000 annually for 10 years in on-the-job training reimbursements and $8.8 million in property taxes from the Capital Investment Incentive Program over 15 years, subject to the Board of Supervisors’ approval.
The State of California also has offered numerous incentives to Amazon, including the California Competes Tax Credit, which could potentially provide Amazon with up to $200 million total in credits in five years. Some of the cities in the County of Riverside’s proposal are offering their own additional incentives.
Seattle-based Amazon announced last month it would solicit bids for a second headquarters where it would hire 50,000 new full-time employees over the next 10 to 15 years with an average annual total compensation of more than $100,000. The project is expected to have more than $5 billion in capital expenditures. Bids were due by midnight Thursday (10/19). Final site selection will occur in 2018.
“Riverside County’s distinct value proposition to Amazon is simple: SoCal diversity, talent and imagination matched with affordability and value,” said Rob Field, Riverside County’s Assistant County Executive Officer/Economic Development Agency. “A Riverside County location provides ample room for HQ2’s growth and leverages all of Southern California’s economic and recreational resources.”
The region meets the retailer’s requirements that it have more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, potential to attract and retain strong technical talent along with access to major highways, mass transit and an international airport.
Included in the County of Riverside’s bid are two sites in the City of Riverside, which has been ranked as the No. 1 city where millennials are moving, No. 8 among America’s coolest cities, No. 2 as a hotspot for technology and No. 14 as the safest city metro area. The region also ranks as a top 10 metro for retaining college grads.
The cities of Moreno Valley, Menifee and Murrieta each proposed two locations, the March Joint Powers Authority offered multiple options in its business park and the City of Perris proposed one location. All of their proposals were packaged in the County of Riverside’s bid, which can be viewed at www.rivcoeda.org
The region’s strong track record of innovation make it a strong draw for Amazon with global businesses like Esri and hundreds of tech startups calling Inland Southern California home. The area also has double the job growth of Los Angeles and a 27 percent lower cost of living than Amazon’s base of Seattle and a 42 percent lower cost of housing than Seattle.
Inland job growth has outpaced the state and Southern California for the sixth consecutive year, and the region has the nation’s 14-largest workforce. The Internet giant also stressed the need for excellent institutions of higher education, and one of those played a role in the bid. The University of California, Riverside, which has a $2.7 billion annual economic impact, helped produce a video that was submitted as part of the package.
The playful video was produced by UCR Professor of Theater and Film Rickerby Hinds and his students as part of the IE Film Initiative. In the short film, a woman plays the role of Inland Southern California on a date with a suitor who plays the role of Amazon. She touts the region’s attributes, and the intrigued man asks if she’s “for real.” The full video can be seen here https://vimeo.com/238804981