It insisted the new offices would be a “complete headquarters for Amazon — not a satellite office,” and that executives would be able to choose to base their teams in either, or both, Seattle and the new location.
The news marks the latest step in Amazon’s remarkable evolution, growing from an online bookseller into a company that now offers next-day delivery of millions of products, a raft of hardware from tablets to home assistants, and an increasingly aggressive foray into grocery shopping.
Amazon has been growing rapidly in recent years. The company now has more than 382,000 employees globally. In January, it vowed to create 100,000 jobs in the United States over the next 18 months. It increased its domestic work force to more than 180,000 employees at the end of 2016, from 30,000 in 2011.
That figure does not include the thousands of temporary workers who join the company during high-demand periods like Christmas.
The retailer employed 300,000 people globally by its 20th year as a public company, the fastest any American company has reached that mark, according to the Progressive Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.
Still, the hiring spree has not protected Amazon from the wrath of critics, including President Trump, who argue that the company is killing retail jobs by pushing shoppers online and away from department stores and malls.
The economic impact of being home to a new Amazon headquarters would be considerable for wherever is chosen. The company says that every dollar it has invested in Seattle has generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s overall economy.
The requirement for a metropolitan area with a relatively high population, however, narrows down the list of potential new sites, and will set off a competition between regions across North America eager to court such a large employer.
Companies that look for major new locations often set off bidding wars between cities and states desperate for new sources of tax revenue and additional jobs.
A 2012 investigation by The New York Times found that states, counties and cities gave up more than $80 billion each year to companies across all sectors. That almost certainly underestimates the true figure, as many more incentives are offered by government agencies and officials at varying levels of government.
Though it is based in Seattle, the company’s reputation in the city has been tarnished. Local activists complain that it is driving gentrification, and the retailer’s high-pressure work culture was the subject of a New York Times investigation. It is also criticized for not being sufficiently involved in the city’s civic life, especially compared to other Seattle-based companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks.