After months of speculation and a multi-year effort to look for its next headquarters, Amazon has officially announced where they're going.
And, early reports from last week were pretty much on the money. Amazon has selected two locations: Crystal City, Virginia and Long Island, New York.
For all intent and purposes, Crystal City is actually a neighborhood and the decision to locate there is a big win for Arlington, VA. And, Long Island City is a neighborhood in Queens, that is one of the hottest in New York, currently undergoing a huge transformation.
Even Nashville became a big winner when it was revealed that the Tennessee city would be on the winning end of a $230 million "hub operations center" that would have 5,000 jobs.
But, for those three locations, there were 17 losers -- cities and regions that had spent time and effort to woo Amazon.
Let's take a look at what some of those competing cities said in the wake of today's official announcement by a look at headlines and stories curated from their newspapers and media sites:
Does L.A. Win By Not Getting Amazon?
Even without the second headquarters, California is home to 39,000 Amazon staffers — not counting the thousands who work for Whole Foods and other subsidiaries. The company says it has invested more than $19 billion in the Golden State since 2011.
“I wouldn’t say we were disappointed, because the process was positive,” said Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., the public-private entity that drafted the county’s 350-page bid and squired Amazon representatives around more than a half dozen campus sites on multiple visits. Amazon “already has thousands of employees here,” Allen said. “I’m confident it will invest more.”
Philly: Never Really In Running
In Philadelphia, the response from Mayor Kenney was upbeat and hopeful.
“While Philadelphia was not ultimately chosen for Amazon’s HQ2, I thank Amazon for its consideration and am honored that we were among the top contenders,” Kenney said in a statement.
The process benefitted Philadelphia “in many ways,” Kenney said, by thrusting the city into the national and international spotlight. According to the mayor, the competition showed that Philadelphia is a viable site for other large-scale projects and notable stakeholders gathered around a shared message about Philadelphia.
“I am hopeful that we will continue to harness the energy found throughout this process and apply it to future business attraction, retention, and expansion efforts in Philadelphia,” Kenney said.
Toronto Wins In Losing Bid
Talk about positive thinking. Despite losing out on the bid, the only Canadian city to make the final cut looks hopeful in today's news and the city's mayor is optimistic Toronto raised its tech-profile.
"We know the Toronto Region has already received an extraordinary dividend from this process — the downloading of our bid book some 17,000 times around the world by people considering Toronto as the place to locate or grow their businesses," Tory said.
Instead of focusing on what it cost, Tory also believes that the city's bid for Amazon amounted to about $143 million in advertising showcasing the region.
Steel City Hurt By Infrastructure
Turns out that a less-than-stellar infrastructure and a limited pool of employees is what hurt Pittsburgh's bid for Amazon. Now, city officials are using sports references and their steely resolve to show they can move onwards.
In the competition, the Steel City likely was hurt by its less-than-stellar infrastructure, a smaller talent pool than that available in some of its larger competitor cities, and an airport that did not have nearly the number of flights or destinations as the winner.
While disappointed, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald didn’t view Amazon’s decision as a loss for the region.
He compared it to getting to the Super Bowl but not securing the victory.
“It’s better than being 8-8 and not making the playoffs. You’ve reached the finals. Yes, you want to win, but the fact you’re there is a big deal,” he said.
Nada for Indy
Amazon's selections today highlight a major issue for America's midsize cities. There's just not enough talent and people to go around.
"We knew there wasn't a region in the United States that had 50,000 or even 25,000 highly skilled people sitting around," said Maureen Krauss, the chief economic development officer for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. "So we knew part of the talent story is what kind of community are you going to offer that talent. That's a strong argument for us."
The Indy Chamber orchestrated a regional Central Indiana bid on behalf of the city, state and suburbs, including Fishers. The chamber emphasized regional collaboration, including public-private partnerships, Krauss said. She declined to elaborate.
Lessons Learned In Mile High City
While Denver didn't win their bid, they did get a promise from Amazon officials for valuable feedback they can use for future bids.
Sam Bailey, who handled the state’s bid as vice president with Metro Denver Economic Development Center, said Amazon called him just before 8 a.m. The conversation was brief and no reason was offered for not picking Denver, he said.
“They’re committed to coming back and providing direct feedback on Colorado’s response to HQ2,” Bailey said. “It could be anything. How we approached the process. It could be that our population size was not enough to satisfy the needs of the project. That’s the conversation we’ll have with the company.”
Austin Shrugs, Moves Onward
Austin loves to be weird, and chances are they'll keep on being weird and those city officials and locals who relish their hipster vibe will have less to worry about with an Amazon invasion.
While some cities expressed disappointment, in Austin there was little angst being voiced Tuesday. From the start, Austin-area elected officials and economic development leaders showed limited enthusiasm for chasing after Amazon.
“Austin is a city that is already seeing very strong growth, with significant amount of immigration and a city that is already trying to keep up with that growth,” said Julia Coronado, an economics professor at the University of Texas. “It didn’t need (HQ2) per se.”
Alexa Apologizes To Windy City
Hopes were high for HQ2 in Chicago. The city was among 238 cities and regions that submitted proposals for the project, and it was one of 20 remaining contenders when the list was narrowed in January. HQ2 search teams visited the city multiple times.
In the end, though, Chicago did not win, as Alexa so aptly points out.
“Although you are the Windy City we couldn’t make you the W-I-N-dy city,” she says. “Sorry for that one. Even with the cognitive computational power of our servers, that joke was the best we could do.”
No Tears In Boston
Between winning every major sports title and their booming business climate, Bostonians have little to worry about with losing out on the bid for Amazon.
“Honestly, I’m relieved,” said City Councilor Lydia Edwards, whose district includes Suffolk Downs, which would have been an Amazon site in one version of the Boston bid. “We’re in the middle of an economic boom that we’re still struggling to get our arms around. I think we dodged a bullet.”
Columbus Optimistic They Can Compete For Big Bids In Future
Kenny McDonald, chief economic officer for Columbus 2020, the region’s economic-development arm that handled its bid, said the region is better for going after the project because it forced officials to look at projects and clients differently. It also showed that the region could compete with some of the biggest cities in North America, he said.
“You lose sometimes, but it is important to be on the field,” he said. “We have no worries about our ability to compete at the highest level for the biggest projects in the world.”
Atlanta's Focus Was Prime Time
Amazon's potential move to Atlanta, GA had the utmost priority of both the governor and civic leaders, many of whom were quietly confident of their chances.
Atlanta officials were excited by the potential to develop what was to become a major centerpiece of rebuilding an area south of downtown called the "Gulch."
Gov. Nathan Deal made Amazon the state’s highest recruitment priority, devoting tremendous resources from the state Department of Economic development and leaning on the region’s business elite and local recruiting agencies to craft a proposal to win the project.
With No Meaningful Conversation, Raleigh Moves On
Turns out, mum was the word in Raleigh, North Carolina. Early talk for Raleigh's bid focused on it's place amongst a vibrant and thriving tech center and close proximity to tens of thousands of college students at schools like NC State, University of North Carolina and Duke -- many of which are well-known for engineering and business programs.
But, with little word from Amazon's top brass in Seattle, city leaders had little to work with. State and local officials have been silent throughout the recruitment process of Amazon, which began last September, so it is unclear what the state offered the company in incentives or what the area’s possible shortcomings were.
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