After months of municipal pageants, rampant speculation and rumors, Amazon has finally and officially picked Arlington, Virginia and New York City to house the company’s two new headquarters. Amazon also said it will also be building out a new Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville, TN.
There will be plenty of breathless coverage over the news: why those cities were chosen and what it means for housing prices in each location. But for our purposes here at The Spoon, let’s focus on what the new locations could mean for food tech.
The benefits to Amazon of putting down roots in Northern Virginia are fairly obvious, as it gives Amazon a pretty massive presence right next to Washington D.C., where it will presumably flex its political muscle. Amazon will now be providing a ton of jobs in three different states (55,000 in total), giving it the attention of six different senators and a number of Congresspeople who will want to keep Amazon (with all those jobs) happy.
This will certainly help when it comes to rules and regulations around food tech. Think: autonomous delivery vehicles, yet-to-be-determined drone regulations, or rules around SNAP benefits. Any lobbying will of course benefit Amazon specifically, but could also push clarity around these emerging issues for all the players in these spaces.
Being that close to D.C. also puts them in the same geographical ring, as it were, should President Trump continue to antagonize Amazon CEO (and owner of The Washington Post) Jeff Bezos over things like postal rates. It’s easier to put up a fight when you aren’t across an entire country.
New York City, on the other hand, gives Amazon an amazingly dense urban landscape in which to experiment with all kinds of different technologies and programs (and gets lots and lots of user data). Because there are so many people in a small area, it’s an ideal place to perfect robot (or drone) delivery of groceries, courtesy of Whole Foods. There are a wealth of restaurants to expand and improve meal delivery. Amazon is already opening up one of its Amazon Go stores in New York, and the grab-and-go, convenience aspect of that chain is perfect for a bustling, busy city like New York.
Amazon hasn’t even moved into those new locations yet, so this is all speculation. Having lived in the Seattle area off and on since the late 90s, I’ve seen firsthand how Amazon changes a city. With Amazon at the peak of its powers now, we’ll have to see how these new locations are transformed, how those transformations reverberate throughout the country and what it means for how we eat.