When Amazon said its second home would be elsewhere, Seattle-area leaders sent a letter asking, among other things, that the city and its largest private employer hit the “refresh button” in their relationship. A month later, Amazon has proposed a meeting, in South Lake Union.
Amazon has responded to a “refresh button” request from Seattle-area politicians by proposing a January meeting at its South Lake Union headquarters.
“We propose a roundtable discussion in January at our offices to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for the city and how we can best work together on them,” a representative for the online retailer said in a Nov. 29 reply to five Seattle City Council members, four state lawmakers and other local leaders.
“We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate on issues important to Seattle,” Brian Huseman, an Amazon vice president for public policy, wrote in the reply first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The politicians had written an apologetic letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and real-estate official John Schoettler on Oct. 10 proposing a new, closer relationship with the city’s largest private employer. They penned the missive after Amazon’s surprise announcement in September that it would build a second headquarters outside Seattle.
“We understand there are many reasons for your decision to potentially site HQ2 in a different city,” the government leaders wrote. “To the extent that this decision was based on Amazon feeling unwelcome in Seattle, or not being included in some of our regional decisions, we would like to hit the refresh button.”
The letter suggested that the company and local leaders create a “joint task force” on issues related to transportation, freight mobility, public safety, the gig economy and public education. Amazon’s reply came more than a month later.
“With over 40,000 employees, we recognize our unique position as the city’s largest private employer,” Huseman wrote, mentioning the company’s contributions to the local economy and two recent philanthropic projects — a homeless shelter for families in South Lake Union and space for five FareStart restaurants, which train people with barriers to employment in culinary services.
“We welcome your offer to work more collaboratively,” he added.