Amazon, bring a distribution centre to Hamilton: city councillor
Hamilton might soon be beckoning an online retail giant.
Amazon is moving into Australia, and Hamilton City councillor Angela O'Leary wants the company to choose Hamilton if the expansion carries on across the ditch.
"We've got everything they need... They need space, land to build a distribution centre. They need good transport links and they need a quality IT infrastructure," she said.
Amazon has signed the lease on a 24,387 sqm warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne and appointed an executive to run local operations.
* NZ business needs to prepare for Amazon
* Amazon's Australian invasion: Separating hype from reality
* Amazon is coming to Australia: What it will mean for shoppers
* GST worries and Amazon's imminent arrival in Australia hit home
O'Leary imagines they'll be looking at a move to New Zealand after two to three years and wants the city council to sell Hamilton as the best spot.
"Hamilton's proven for large logistics with Fonterra and Mainfreight already," O'Leary said.
"I believe the average size of their warehouses in the States employ around 200 to 250 people. So that's jobs, and jobs have always got to be good for the economy."
The city doesn't have Auckland-level congestion and has a low earthquake and flood risk, she said.
Amazon has attracted criticism offshore for seeking out sweeteners in tax deals in areas it seeks to set up.
Council could lead the charge O'Leary said, but she doesn't intend for ratepayer money to go into the bid, for example through subsidies.
Nor does she foresee a big impact on local retailers.
"You can buy online now... That's been around for a really long time."
"The benefit of that job creation will outweigh any sort of negative impact it may have on retailers New Zealand-wide."
Mayor Andrew King said council can be an enabler, and we have to accept that online shopping is the future.
He passed O'Leary's idea to the group which looks after the land at Hamilton Airport as he said finding the right block of land would be key for Amazon.
"To me it makes sense that [the distribution centre] would be near the airport and near our transport links," King said.
"We would be happy to see it go anywhere in the Waikato."
Logistics are becoming a bigger part of the Waikato economy, Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive William Durning said.
"I think we're already starting to see that the commercial sector is recognising that because of our perfect positioning between the two ports of Auckland and Tauranga, the existing infrastructure that sits around road and rail, our geotechnical boring-ness that we have got, the fact that we've got a really young and well-educated workforce, and that land here is relatively cheap and open for development."
Amazon's arrival would create some jobs and disrupt others but that's the normal course of things when a new industry develops, he said.
If Amazon comes, Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Vanessa Williams hopes it can provide an opportunity for traditional retailers.
Selling through Amazon could be a new sales channel for their products, like an extra shop window, she said.
"Maybe it's the opportunity for retailers to see it as an additional offering, to complement their stores."
O'Leary plans to discuss the Amazon pitch option with King on Friday and hopes a task force of experts - including representatives from Tainui, business, and the Property Council - can be formed.