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Barger backs bid to secure Amazon


The Board of Supervisors voted this week to coordinate a regional bid for Amazon’s proposed second headquarters site, joining a nationwide scrimmage for the jobs the giant e-retailer will bring.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger recommended identifying appropriate sites and economic incentives as well as possible partners for what they called a “special and once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity.”

“We have the ability to provide (Amazon) with a variety of things: safe neighborhoods, good housing, affordable housing, access to top-notch educational institutions. And to make sure that jobs are secure for people here. That’s one of our priorities,” Solis said.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas proposed working with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to create a regional proposal.

“This collaborative effort is key to featuring our many strengths as a region and allows for our collective to send a strong message to other large employers,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We are serious about doing business in Los Angeles County.”

The LAEDC has already reached out to many interested parties to suggest collaborating on a submission.

A number of cities within the county—including Los Angeles—are already jostling to host Amazon’s facility, which is expected to generate as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, has said it plans to invest $5 billion to build and operate the second headquarters.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she was confident that wherever Amazon goes, it will create lots of jobs with six-figure salaries, but she also raised some concerns based on the company’s experience in Seattle.

“The cost of housing doubled because people had more money,” while the number of homeless people increased “quite a bit,” Kuehl said.

The headquarters jobs wouldn’t be entry-level positions, she said, and would go only to well-educated applicants.

Kuehl asked that the board consider ways to offset potential negative effects, including the possibility of rent control.

Amazon is considering metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, said when the announcement was made. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in upfront and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Amazon, a worldwide leader in e-commerce, estimates that its investments in Seattle between 2010 and 2016 added $38 billion to the city’s economy.

The board—on a unanimous vote—directed the county’s chief executive officer to return with recommended sites by Oct. 3.

Proposals are due to Amazon no later than Oct. 19.