What do Jeff Bezos and his lieutenants look for when they’re in an expansive mood? That’s a key question in the multibillion-dollar contest to attract Amazon’s second headquarters, and the Blue Origin space venture – Bezos’ other multibillion-dollar enterprise – may well offer clues to the answer.
Over the past few years, Blue Origin has gone through not just one, but two high-profile nationwide searches for expansion sites.
In 2015, the company chose Florida’s Space Coast for a 750,000-square-foot rocket manufacturing facility and an orbital launch pad. This June, Blue Origin tentatively tapped Alabama for a 200,000-square-foot engine factory.
The scale of Amazon’s HQ2 project will be much bigger: An estimated $5 billion in investment and about 50,000 jobs are at stake for the host city – as opposed to $205 million in investment and 330 high-tech jobs for Blue Origin’s Florida operation, and $200 million and 350 jobs for Alabama.
Nevertheless, it’s not unreasonable to think that at least some of the calculations behind Bezos’ HQ2 process will be similar to those that drove Bezos’ Blue Origin process.