by Holly Gray
on Friday, February 9th, 2018 at 10:41am.
Seattle, Washington is a city first driven by culture. With its progressive music scene, plethora of festivals, and famous sightseeing destinations, this rainy place in the PNW has recently been garnering attention for its natural and urban allure. With festivals and events taking place on any given day of the year, the month of February will bring events and attractions such as the Wintergrass Bluegrass festival, and concerts ranging from string quartets to indie rock favorites, like Kimbra and The Album Leaf.
Winter 2018 proves to be an exciting time for this city in PNW with an upcoming debut of the musical, Hamilton, and the three-day Seattle Food and Wine Experience at the end of the month. In addition, Paul Simon recently announced Seattle would be one of the few stops on his upcoming tour.
In early February, Eater released the top 5 hottest restaurants in Seattle, naming The Shambles, Fremont Bowl, Kamonegi, Westman’s Coffee and Bagel, and Bok a Bok as the must-try spots, while Gather Kitchen + Bar snagged the #1 ranking for Best Happy Hour. The top three comedy clubs are all local favorites: Unexpected Productions, Jet City Improv, and Comedy Underground.
While the Space Needle, Puget Sound, and Pike Place Market still lure in tourists in droves, more and more people are visiting the city for its industry, as it is home to many major companies known worldwide. Top businesses such as Walmart, Microsoft, Starbucks, Nordstrom, CostCo, and Boeing contribute to the job market in Seattle, alongside the continuously growing, online shopping powerhouse, Amazon, which employs over 40,000 Seattle residents.
Amazon is currently in the midst of a race to become the first trillion dollar company against its two top competitors, Google and Apple. While the $692bn Amazon empire lags behind Apple at $814bn and Google at $775bn, it recently reported the greatest profit it in its company history when millions of users chose to upgrade to Amazon Prime, incentivized by complimentary two-day delivery and video streaming. Stocks have increased 21% this past year and, at the start of 2018, Amazon lead the mobile searches coming out of India at a whopping 46%, followed by Flipkart at just under 21%.
Amazon’s momentum has recently skyrocketed the company above Microsoft, making it the biggest company in the state of Washington, and its founder, Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world. At a net worth of $116bn, Bezos ranks higher than Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Amazon’s recent purchase of the popular grocer, Whole Foods, is being considered as an act of goodwill, meaning that the purchase price exceeds the value. This suggests that the company considered this purchase as an opportunity for future growth, rather than accrued assets. In fact, 70% of the purchase, or $9bn, has been considered goodwill, making this exchange the highest goodwill deal to date for a company with physical retail.
2018 is shaping up to be a year of monumental change for the company as it recently announced its decision to pursue pharmaceutical distribution and, in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase, reduce healthcare spending for the masses. While this has been met with some resistance due to the company’s inexperience with health care, others remain open, citing Amazon’s ability to overcome challenges and effectively deliver its services.
In September of 2018, Amazon announced a contest for its second headquarters, equivalent to its first in Seattle. The company shared plans to invest $5 billion in development, creating 50,000 jobs in a city with more than one million residents, diversity, proximity to an airport, and local schools.The contest received 238 bids from cities in the US and Canada all vying for their chance for new, high paying jobs, tax breaks, and other incentives. In early January, the 20 cities moving forward for review were announced. Included are the likely suspects such as Chicago, Denver, and New York, but also some unexpected candidates including Indianapolis and Northern Virginia.
While many are enthusiastic about the prospect of their city becoming home to Amazon’s HQ2, some remain skeptical. With the increase in high-paying jobs, neighborhood gentrification is likely to increase and price out existing residents. While this may not strike worry in those living in cities with room to grow, it is cause for concern for residents in areas with an already sky-high cost of living, such as Los Angeles.
In the years since Amazon first began, the cost of housing and homelessness in Seattle have greatly increased. Plans for public transit has not been able to keep up with the city’s rapid growth and the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. Historical neighborhoods are being replaced by high-rise buildings in attempts to create more housing, raising the question of whether the growth is worth the pains. But despite its landscape of construction worksites and being home to the 6th worst traffic conditions in the nation, Seattle is a city with a booming economy and rich culture that continues to entice new residents and attract visitors from across the nation.