What’s It Like to Have Amazon’s Headquarters In Your City? Seattle Knows.

The company’s second headquarters promises jobs, but it could make a host city’s existing problems worse.

By Rhonda Fanning & Laura RiceOctober 20, 2017 1:11 pm

Many Texas cities vying for Amazon’s second North American headquarters are riding the assumption that the accompanying job boom and growth would be good for the chosen area. But perhaps the only city that truly understands the “Amazon effect” is Seattle, where the company’s current headquarters is located.

Carolyn Adolph, reporter and co-host of Primed, Seattle Public Radio KUOW’s latest podcast about Amazon culture and life, says that it’s impossible to know what sort of changes a city will undergo when a major company’s headquarters land in town, but that the 2013 blossoming of the company’s headquarters in Seattle exacerbated some of the city’s pre-existing problems. She says that the city’s housing shortage, once an ‘annoyance,’ transformed from an into “a game of mean musical chairs” after Amazon began construction on its Seattle headquarters four years ago. The city’s homeless population also increased after the company’s headquarters were built.

Adolph emphasizes that not everything about Amazon’s presence in Seattle is bad, citing amenities like free banana stands and Amazon’s efforts to help a local homeless shelter remain open. However, she says the headquarters have created a monoculture in the city – one that she describes as “white male with a tendency toward hoodies and jeans.”

“It was like having this lovely internal combustion engine in the middle of your city that was just percolating jobs,” Adolph said. “If you look at the entire Puget Sound region over the past five years, we’ve seen an increase of 328,000 jobs. [You can] drive an hour and a half away from the center of the city and track the growth to this center.”


Written by Rachel Zein.