Las Vegas fails to make the cut for Amazon headquarters

Updated January 18, 2018 - 4:07 pm

Las Vegas is out of the running for a second headquarters for e-commerce giant Amazon.

The company released a list Thursday of 20 cities still eligible for the $5 billion investment.

No Nevada city made the list. Amazon had received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

State and local government have been secretive about what was offered to lure Amazon to the Silver State. Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance CEO Jonas Peterson previously told the Review-Journal that the proposal shows data on the Las Vegas Valley’s population growth, low taxes and low regulations.

On Thursday, Peterson said he’s learned some lessons from applying for the headquarters.

“At the top of the list is the importance of developing outstanding higher education institutions, robust mass-transit systems and abundant tech talent,” he said. “Almost all the finalist communities shared these characteristics. If we want to be successful on major projects, we’re going to have to continue building up these assets in our region.”

“Although we weren’t successful with HQ2, Amazon is still a major employer in Nevada and we look forward to growing their presence in our market,” he continued.

Nevada’s lack of a skilled workforce was expected to hinder the state, UNLV economics professor and Center for Business and Economic Research director Stephen Miller previously told the RJ. Less than 30 percent of workers in Nevada have bachelor’s degrees.

On Thursday, Miller said it made sense for Seattle-based Amazon to look on the East Coast for the second headquarters. Sixteen of the 20 finalist cities lie east of the Mississippi River.

“Thus, Las Vegas did not stand much of a chance,” he said.

The incoming director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which worked on Nevada’s proposal, said Amazon has nearly 4,000 employees in the state, including ones at Las Vegas-based subsidiary Zappos.

“We expect to continue to grow that relationship,” Paul Anderson said.

Amazon could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses.

Besides looking for financial incentives, Amazon said it wanted proximity to a metropolitan area with more than a million people, a talented workforce, within 45 minutes of an international airport, direct access to mass transit and the ability to expand the second headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

The company had already made a noticeable investment in its Las Vegas Valley presence with a new fulfillment center that opened in August. Tax incentives helped to recruit a local presence for the Seattle-based company.

Nevada’s attempt to lure Amazon included social media campaigns and a nearly five-minute promotional video with scenes of the Strip and reference to the area healing after the Oct. 1 shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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