SEATTLE — Amazon's footprint is expanding outside of Seattle.
The tech giant plans to move its Seattle-based worldwide operations team across to Bellevue by 2023, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
“We opened our first office building in Bellevue in 2017,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “It’s a city with great amenities, a high-quality of life for our employees, and fantastic talent – and it’s recognized for its business-friendly environment. We look forward to continue growing our presence in Bellevue and bring more jobs to the city.”
Several thousand employees will be involved in the move, according to GeekWire, who first reported the news.
Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak welcomed Amazon to the city on Wednesday, saying he's looking forward to working with the company as it transitions workers to the Eastside.
"As a community we’ve worked hard to anticipate this type of positive growth downtown, and Amazon is a natural fit," Chelminiak said. "It’s also critical that these types of jobs stay in the region."
Elaina Herber is the owner of Ascend Hospitality Group in Bellevue. She has 600 employees and 16 restaurants, including Lincoln South Food Hall and Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi in downtown Bellevue. She sees the announcement as a boost for the business community.
"I do believe that if you are a server, particularly in our restaurant, you are going to make more money. People are buying more. There is more spending power,” said Herber. "Sure, there are going to be challenges, right? We are going to have more traffic. There's going to be less homes to buy. There is all kinds of challenges, but challenge equals opportunity."
The move is the latest hint that Amazon could be cooling on Seattle.
And it comes just months after the online retailer announced it had selected Northern Virginia and Long Island City, New York as the locations for its second headquarters and home base for 50,000 new Amazon workers. Although Amazon bowed out of the deal with New York in February after receiving push-back from local leaders, most of those 25,000 new jobs won't be coming back to Seattle, according to a report from The Seattle Times.
Monica Nickelsburg, GeekWire’s Civic Editor, first reported the company’s plans to expand in Bellevue.
"There is a lot of speculation that Bellevue is the real HQ2, and I think that there is certainly evidence to suggest that, especially this news [Wednesday]. But it is also important to remember that the 25,000 jobs Amazon was going to put in New York before pulling out of that project are not going to move to Bellevue,” Nickelsburg said.
Amazon will also bring 5,000 jobs to Nashville at a new operations site.
Seattle's reputation for being unfriendly to business was sealed last year when the city council attempted to impose a $275-per-employee head tax on big business in the city. Amazon was one of the companies who put pressure on the city to rescind the tax, and the council reversed course weeks after passing the measure.