Amazon plans to open $5 billion second headquarters in North America; Denver and Aurora will bid

SEATTLE -- Amazon has announced plans to open a second headquarters in North America that will employ as many as 50,000 workers.

The company announced Thursday that it is searching for a city to host the new "HQ2" facility that will cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate.

"We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said. "Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We're excited to find a second home."

Amazon said it would prefer to open the headquarters in a suburban or urban area with more than 1 million people. It's looking for a community that "thinks big" and a location that will attract technical talent.

Amazon has started hiring 1,000 workers for a new fulfillment center in Aurora.

And in June, the company announced it will build another facility in Thornton that will handle smaller items, and use robots to help pick and pack items.

The 2.4-million-square-foot center will create 1,500 full-time jobs and open in August.

Cities and regional economic development organizations have been invited to submit proposals, and they will likely scramble to offer incentives and tax breaks for Amazon to consider their area.

Denver and Aurora have economic development teams working on proposals using Amazon's criteria that includes an international airport nearby.

"We're excited about competing and we always feel confident that we can go and compete against anyone when we work together as a region," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

"It will be something obviously to bring that type of deal here that we will have to think long and hard about what incentives you put on the table if we're asked for incentives. But at the end of the day, it will be a great deal for all of us who call Denver home."

The company said while it would hire teams and executives for the new location, employees who currently work in Seattle would be offered the chance to relocate.

Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 to 2016 added $38 billion to the city's economy. 

These investments include buildings, parks and infrastructure, such as corporate offices and Prime Now delivery sites.

Its headquarters in Seattle boasts 33 buildings and 24 restaurants or cafes. It covers 8.1 million square feet.

The announcement of Amazon's second headquarters is a part of a larger effort from Amazon to grow its footprint at home and abroad.

In January, the company announced plans to create over 100,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. It's been steadily announcing new fulfillment centers.

Amazon also recently closed its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods as it expands into the groceries market and brick-and-mortar stores.

Meanwhile, it will start selling its branded smart home devices at Amazon bookstores and retailers like Kohl's soon.