A California city is offering Amazon a $400 million incentive to build its headquarters near the US-Mexico border

  • The city of Chula Vista, California is offering a $400-million incentive package to Amazon if it decides to build its second headquarters there.
  • The plan would be part of the larger redevelopment of Chula Vista's downtown.
  • The bid also includes a proposal for what would be the "world's first binational university" with campuses in the United States and Mexico.

Across North America, over 50 cities are submitting bids to house Amazon's second headquarters. The company announced last month that it will invest $5 billion in the construction of the new facility, called HQ2, in an undetermined location and create 50,000 new jobs.

Bids are due on Thursday, but a few cities have already shared their proposals for Amazon's campus.

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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.


Chula Vista, a city 10 miles outside of downtown San Diego, California, has a distinct vision.

Its 25-page proposal, called "Welcome Home Amazon," outlines a $400-million incentive package in the form of tax breaks, and promises to give Amazon 8 million square feet of space.

In a statement, the city of Chula Vista said its neighborhoods were "shovel ready."

Chula Vista's Amazon proposal is part of a larger redevelopment plan for the city over the next 20 years, which will be completed whether or not Amazon comes to the California city. The area is currently home to over 260,000 people, but its masterplan (dubbed "Millenia") calls for 11 new neighborhoods that will house approximately 60,000 new residents, according to the city. The plan mostly focuses on new housing, though it also includes a giant office park, more retail space, and a hotel.

Amazon's site in Chula Vista would be about six miles from the United States-Mexico border in Tijuana. The city's proposal also calls for the creation of "the world's first binational university" near Amazon's headquarters — which would have campuses in both California and Mexico.

"We dream of a university that is integrated with industry so much so that classes could be held on the second floor while industry and internships are happening on the third, fourth and fifth floors. We want a university that prepares students to enter the workforce the day they graduate, regardless of what country they come from," the city wrote in its bid.

Chula Vista said construction on Amazon's HQ2 site could be completed as early as 2020. 

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