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Amazon.com is searching for a site for a major corporate office in the US, a development expected to house as many as 50 000 people and to be equal in size to its current Seattle headquarters.

The cost of what Amazon is billing as its “second company headquarters in North America” is expected to top $5bn, the company said.

Amazon is now asking local and state governments to pitch for its business, with the promise of boosting the local economy.

Any new development by Amazon would have a major impact on the surrounding community. The company is one of the biggest employers in Seattle, on course to have 929 000 square metres of office space, more than 15% of the city’s inventory.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.”

The e-commerce giant recently moved into a new 500-foot-tall office tower in Seattle, complete with 100-foot-tall orbs – Amazon calls them Biospheres – which will host more than 300 plant species from around the world when they open in 2018.

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