BREMERTON — As Amazon launches a nationwide search to find a home for its second headquarters, Port of Bremerton officials are hoping the Seattle tech giant won't overlook its own backyard.
Port Commissioner Cary Bozeman acknowledged the chance of Kitsap landing the "HQ2" project is extremely slim — all signs point to Amazon picking a major city in another region — but he said compiling the proposal was still a useful endeavor. The port honed its pitch with support from the city of Bremerton and Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.
"That's what our job is, to attract companies and jobs," Bozeman said Monday. "We think this is a great opportunity and experience for the port."
While not a perfect match, the port can check off a number of items on Amazon's wishlist.
With 1,000 acres of industrial land ready for development, the port has plenty of space for a 100-acre corporate campus. Bremerton is also situated close to a large metropolitan area (albeit one Amazon already occupies) and an international airport.
County residents enjoy a high quality of life and low housing costs compared with tech hubs like Seattle. There are several universities in the region and Kitsap's Olympic College offers a number of four-year degrees in partnership with other institutions.
The port is served by an airport and a rail spur that ties into a national railway system and connects to a deepwater shipping port in Grays Harbor. Its location within a foreign trade zone offers benefits to companies importing and exporting overseas.
Port director of business development Arne Bakker noted Kitsap alone probably couldn't satisfy Amazon's labor force needs but he believes there are enough workers in neighboring counties willing to commute to Bremerton for an Amazon job.
With all those factors in mind, Bakker said it's not out of the question the port could lure a corporation as massive as Amazon.
"We have the land with the right infrastructure," he said. "It's something that's doable."
Bremerton is unlikely to be a serious contender for HQ2, but port CEO Jim Rothlin sees a long-term benefit in making a pitch. Submitting the proposal could increase the likelihood of the port landing a smaller Amazon project in the future, he said.
"You never know when they'll need more office space or expanded distribution," Rothlin said. "It's a way to get us in front of them."
Bremerton will join dozens of communities offering proposals for HQ2 prior to the Oct. 19 deadline set by Amazon. Some are courting the online retailer with generous tax breaks, while smaller municipalities have turned to gimmicks to get noticed (Tucson, Arizona gifted Amazon a giant cactus).
Amazon will announce its pick for HQ2 sometime next year.
Copyright 2017 Kitsap Sun