Vallejo city officials to Amazon: “Hey, what about us?”

September 21 2017

Vallejo has upped its game and is preparing to convince Amazon why that city deserves to be the home of the online retail giant’s second headquarters.


Amazon announced Sept. 7 it plans to open another headquarters in North America and it is soliciting pitches from cities and states for what it calls HQ2.


The online retailer said it expects to invest more than $5 billion in construction and create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs for the lucky winner.


“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”


According to the RFP, Amazon is looking for a place that’s no more than 30 miles from a population center, within 45 minutes of an airport, not more than a mile or two from major highways and access to mass transit.


The company says it is looking for a metro area of more than 1 million people, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” and the potential to “attract and retain strong technical talent.”


Vallejo city officials have formed a three-man task force to gather information and put together a proposal by the Oct. 19 deadline.


“We read the bullet points and concluded we meet or exceed all the criteria,” said Will Morat, an administrative analyst with the city, and one of the task force members. “We have low operating costs and don’t have the headaches of other places in the Bay area, like high real estate costs.”


According to a new website aimed to draw new businesses to the city, Choose Vallejo, it has a “2.2 million laborshed with in 60 miles commute”, and “a strong supply chain and manufacturing base with $4 billion in regional advanced materials, biotech, and food & beverage sectors.”


The city also boasts the most ethnically diverse city in the U.S. and officially the “hottest U.S. residential real estate market” with average housing costs 50 percent lower than the rest of the Bay Area.


There is also enough room on Mare Island, a former 160-acre naval shipyard, which more than meets the required 500,000-square feet of office space in phase one of the project.


Vallejo has stiff competition in Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, and Washington D.C., where Bezos purchased a home earlier this year.


But Vallejo also has something to offer the others can’t.


“We can ask them, “how would you like to land your headquarters on an island in the San Francisco Bay?’” Morat said.


Amazon told the city it would make its decision in 2018.


Even if it doesn’t land the online retail giant, Vallejo will be prepared when another big player comes along.


“They’ll talk to Amazon and say ‘who was on your short list, your long list,’” Morat said. “This isn’t Amazon or bust.”


Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at or call 707-521-4259.