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Amazon can fuel a boom beyond the West Coast

  • AP PHOTO/RICHARD DREW, FILE

    In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, file photo, the Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square.

As Amazon established its dominance in online retail, logistics and cloud computing, the company’s headquarters in Seattle grew appropriately massive. Today it represents a $5 billion investment in 33 buildings, 8 million square feet and more than 40,000 employees.

Just this month, the digital giant confirmed it would be leasing another 722,000 square feet in a 58-story tower in the heart of the city’s downtown.

Amazon has helped establish Seattle as one of the great tech meccas, behind the San Francisco Bay Area. But the concentration of tech growth on the West Coast has come with a cost, in terms of skyrocketing housing prices and jammed freeways.

Now, as Amazon ponders where to locate a second headquarters and 50,000 workers — proposals are due by Thursday — it is raising questions about whether the industry, and America, would be better off spreading the tech-jobs wealth.

Amazon says it will make its choice known next year.

“It’s basically narrowing down the (competition) to a handful of cities,” University of California at Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti said.

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