Mayor Durkan says Amazon moving employees to Bellevue is ‘a good thing for Seattle’

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan seems unfazed by news that Amazon plans to shift thousands of jobs to Bellevue, Wash.

GeekWire reported Wednesday that Amazon is moving its Seattle-based worldwide operations team to nearby Bellevue in a major organizational shift and symbolic gesture. Durkan was asked about the report in an interview with Seattle radio station KUOW.

“It’s great news for the region,” she said. “The more jobs we have in the region and the more it’s diversified, the better it is for all of us. We’ve got a housing affordability crisis, not just in Seattle, but everywhere. Talent begets talent and I think that it is a good thing for Seattle, a good thing for Bellevue.”

Amazon will start relocating employees this month and expects the entire team to be in Bellevue by 2023.

“I’m excited to share the news that we’re planning to migrate worldwide operations to Bellevue starting this year,” wrote Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, in an email to his employees sent Wednesday and obtained by GeekWire. “This move gives room to grow while maintaining the campus feel that we’ve come to love around South Lake Union.”

The announcement comes as tensions are rising between Amazon and its hometown. The hostility reached a boiling point last year when Seattle officials and activists pushed for a tax on big businesses to fund affordable housing, carrying “Tax Amazon” signs across the company’s campus on several occasions. The tax passed and was quickly repealed amid opposition from the business community.

During the KUOW interview Wednesday, host Bill Radke asked Durkan: “Did you help drive those Amazon employees away by supporting the head tax?”

In response, she suggested that Bellevue will be the new site of Amazon’s planned New York “HQ2,” a project that the company pulled out of in January in response to vocal opposition from activists and officials.

“No, we helped get a branch office in Bellevue instead of New York,” Durkan said.

In reality, Amazon plans to disperse the 25,000 jobs it had planned to bring to New York across its other offices. The majority of the new jobs in Bellevue will be existing Amazon employees currently working in Seattle. Amazon has been planning this relocation for a year, before the New York HQ2 drama unfolded, according to sources familiar with the plans.

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