While Amazon did not include Minneapolis on the list of finalists for its second headquarters, the online behemoth is still going to more than double its corporate presence in the city.
Fast-growing Amazon plans to hire an additional 200 engineers and other IT workers for its tech hub in the North Loop where it now employs about 150 people, Amazon confirmed to the Star Tribune.
Local and state officials will visit the office later this week.
Amazon’s growing foothold in the Twin Cities has raised eyebrows as it’s moved into the home turf of two major retail rivals, Target Corp. and Best Buy Co., creating more competition to recruit and retain tech workers.
“We’ve found phenomenal talent here, and look forward to growing our team in our new office in the vibrant North Loop neighborhood,” Ari Silkey, general manager of Amazon’s Minneapolis office, said in a statement. Silkey previously worked at Best Buy.
As Amazon continues to grow at a rapid pace, it has increasingly looked to hire workers outside of its Seattle headquarters where it already employs about 45,000 people. In addition to Minneapolis, Amazon has more than a dozen tech offices in other U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Detroit, New York and Austin, Texas.
It has been drawn to the Twin Cities because of its tech expertise, especially in the areas of transportation and logistics. The region is also home to C.H. Robinson, one of the nation’s largest shipping and logistics companies.
Amazon’s tech office in Minneapolis focuses mostly on transportation technology and delivery-related services. For example, it works on Amazon lockers, which are placed in shopping malls, grocery stores and other retail locations and provide an alternate way for customers to pick up their online orders instead of having them sent to their doorstep, where the items are at risk of being stolen.
In Minneapolis, Amazon will be hiring transportation technology specialists as well as cloud computing engineers for its highly profitable Amazon Web Services division and other positions, an Amazon spokesman said.
When Amazon first announced it was opening a tech office in Minneapolis in 2016, the company said it would employ 100 workers. It’s already surpassed that number.
It began recruiting workers around the same time that Minneapolis-based Target was also hiring more engineers as it looked to bring more tech talent in-house instead of outsourcing that work. Mike McNamara, Target’s chief digital officer, acknowledged at the time that the retailer could lose some people to Amazon.
“But perversely, I’m quite excited about it,” he told the Star Tribune in 2016. “In the long term, I think it will be good for the Twin Cities because I think it will be a magnet for technical talent.”
And Amazon has a reputation for churning through people. So down the road, some of those Amazon employees could end up at Target, he said.
Amazon initially moved into the Fifth Street Towers downtown and then signed a lease last year to relocate to the T3 building in the North Loop, becoming the first major tenant in the seven-story all-timber building. With this expansion, Amazon will occupy about 100,000 square feet over three floors in the 220,000-square-foot building.
Amazon, which began expanding its physical presence in Minnesota in the past few years, now employs more than 2,000 full-time workers in the state, most of them at a massive fulfillment center in Shakopee. It also operates a smaller sorting center in Shakopee, a transportation delivery station in Eagan and a Prime Now hub in southeast Minneapolis.
In the past year, Amazon sparked an unusual race among cities across the U.S. and Canada after it publicly solicited bids for the home of a second headquarters outside of Seattle that could employ up to 50,000 workers. While the Twin Cities threw its hat into that ring, it did not make the list of 20 finalists announced in January.