Amazon has registered an in-house lobbyist at Georgia's State Capitol in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, sparking speculation that the e-commerce giant may be selecting the city or another Georgia area for its planned second headquarters.
Jacob Oster is a lobbyist who represents Amazon Corporate, with "clean energy and technology" expertise, and on Dec. 7 registered with the state ethics commission, according to the report. As it has in other states, Amazon has greatly expanded operations in Georgia, including distribution centers and a corporate office for its AWS cloud services business, the paper noted.
Amazon has said that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America, but didn't comment on the Journal-Constitution's story, according to the report.
Amazon's second headquarters, which the e-commerce giant says will be equal to its corporate operations in Seattle, is a significant get. The company has said that it expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and eventually offer as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. Following the release of its RFP Sept. 7, several cities scrambled to pull together incentive packages and tout their advantages as a second Amazon base, although other cities and some advocates warned about the downsides.
Some 73 organizations representing community members, warehouse and service workers and faith communities across 21 states signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos calling for minimum standards for inclusion and diversity in the workforce, living wages, investment in transit, housing and infrastructure, and an open and transparent "people's RFP" process. Others say that the side effects of Amazon settling in would accelerate urban development to a problematic degree — leading to housing spikes, traffic snarls and constant disruption from massive construction, all existing issues in the Atlanta area already.
Still, Moody's Analytics crunched the numbers a few weeks ago and declared Austin the first and Atlanta the second most likely winners of the deal. Retail analyst Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, told Retail Dive in October that the "Mid-Atlantic has clear advantages from available mass transit and international airports along with proximity to the largest pool of high level college graduates" and said he thinks that a pool of highly skilled workers is among Amazon's biggest priorities, making cities with several colleges and universities the most likely candidates — another way that Atlanta qualifies.
Amazon's employment of a lobbyist in Georgia doesn't necessarily signal that it will build its second headquarters there, however. The company, as the report notes, has significant operations in the state already and has expanded elsewhere, including in New York.
Oster is also a clean energy lobbyist and the company has shown interest in those practices in the past, investing $55 million in New York to outfit the 5 Manhattan West address in Hudson Yards using energy-efficient standards. In October the company also unveiled its largest ever wind farm in Snyder, TX, adding more than 1,000,000 MWh of clean energy to the grid each year. That project is the latest of 18 wind and solar installations Amazon has launched across the U.S., and the e-commerce giant plans more than 35 more.