THE INC. LIFE

Michael Jordan Amongst Those Pitching Their City to Amazon

With 50,000 jobs moving in, US cities are going to great lengths to attract Amazon’s new $5-billion office that will become their second headquarters.

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BY John White - 11 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are many cities right now doing everything they can to pull together proposals to woo Amazon after the online retail giant announced it was seeking a second home base last month. Amazon outlined its wish list including things like a population of at least one million, proximity to public transportation, an international airport, a talent pool from which to draw, office space, and more. That narrows it down to just over 50 metropolitan areas in the United States.

So what are these cities doing to set themselves apart in order to gain the 50,000 jobs Amazon is promising to its HQ2 location?

Recently Michael Jordan held a press conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, asking Amazon to consider his hometown in the running to become Amazon HQ2. He cited things like parks, quality of life, and things to do as reasons why Amazon should choose the home of his Charlotte Hornets. Hornets President Fred Whitfield, told the Charlotte Observer in a recent story, "It's a great, great city, and one that we love. We're trying to encourage great companies like Amazon to consider us,"

So far there have been many newsworthy pitches for Amazon's second North American headquarters. Some people are even suggesting that Canada or Mexico may be in the running for this expansion, citing the need for tech immigration. While there have been plenty of earnest pitches based on infrastructure, transportation, and talent pool, there have also been many lighthearted PR stunts aimed at getting the attention of Amazon's decision makers.

Birmingham, Alabama, has waged an all-out PR campaign aimed at making the southern city an attractive place for Amazon to put down roots. They have placed giant Amazon shipping boxes all over town, asking people to take pictures and tag them in social media. They have also placed two very large Amazon Dash-looking buttons in town and when residents press them, they tweet facts about Birmingham to Amazon.

  • Tucson, Arizona, attempted to gift Amazon's Seattle headquarters with a 20-foot cactus, prompting Amazon to respond with a "thanks but no thanks" tweet saying they can't accept gifts.
  • The city of Stonecrest, Georgia, voted to rename part of their city "Amazon" to draw the retail giant's new campus just outside of Atlanta.
  • Several mayors in America have made videos asking Alexa where Amazon's new headquarters should be located, to which Alexa has replied the name of their city.
  • Philadelphia's Wharton School of Business assigned students to pitch Amazon on their city.
  • The mayor of Frisco, Texas, made a video of himself opening an Amazon box declaring, "Amazon, you're growing your business, and we want to grow with you."

Logistics will undoubtedly play a role

Amazon is, after all, an online retailer whose business requires easy access to logistics and transportation infrastructure. There are a few cities that stand out for such things:

  • San Diego, California, has one of the busiest shipping ports in the world, and its proximity to manufacturing in Mexico would make it a solid point of origin for Amazon.
  • Louisville, Kentucky, is the home of UPS' Worldport, where anywhere from 1.6 million to 5 million packages a day are processed already.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio / Northern Kentucky is in the midst of gaining a $1.5 billion Amazon Air Hub at their airport, adding critical infrastructure to an area where Amazon already employs 10,000 people.
  • Virginia's governor is pitching the idea of a large technology campus near the Dulles airport, an already busy international air hub.
  • Chicago, Illinois, is a top-five port for railroad freight, water port infrastructure, and air cargo infrastructure as well as second for Interstate Highway infrastructure

Proposals are due by October 19

Amazon will be accepting formal proposals between October 16 and October 19, 2017. They will likely be inundated with hundreds or thousands of proposals from every region - dozens possibly from each city.

The wish list outlined in Amazon's call for proposals does not rank the importance of each item, so it is likely that cities that have 70% or more of what Amazon wants can include plans to cultivate the rest going forward. After all, in business you have to start where you are and do the best you can with what you have, and probably no one understands that better than Jeff Bezos.

Do you think your city has what it takes to host Amazon's second world headquarters? Consider submitting a proposal. There's no telling what will make these proposals stand out to the folks doing the tedious work of going through all of them. You might be surprised when they announce the winner.