Pa. politicians unite for Amazon pitch
In an unusual display of bipartisanship, Democratic and Republican politicians from Pennsylvania attached their names to a letter urging Amazon to move its second headquarters to the Keystone State.
The letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressed “collective support” and urged Amazon “to consider the wide array of geographic and economic advantages to bringing (the company’s) second headquarters to Pennsylvania.
It was signed by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Patrick Toomey; Gov. Tom Wolf; and U.S. Reps. Robert Brady, Dwight Evans, Mike Kelly, Scott Perry, Glenn Thompson, Ryan Costello, Patrick Meehan, Brian Fitzpatrick, Bill Shuster, Tom Marino, Lou Barletta, Keith Rothfus, Brendan Boyle, Charlie Dent, Lloyd Smucker and Matthew Cartwright.
This bipartisan letter comes as the Thursday’s deadline approaches for cities and regional economic development organizations to submit a Request for Proposal, or RFP, to Amazon.
“With more than 200 years of revolutionary industry and intellect, dating back to the birth of our country, Pennsylvania has become a hub for trailblazers and innovative ideas, resulting in longstanding, successful legacies that are now common household names across the United States,” the letter states. “As you continue to deliberate on the placement of HQ2, we ask that you consider Pennsylvania as a leading candidate based on the many strengths that have been outlined in our letter.”
The wooing of Amazon began early in September when the Seattle-based online shopping behemoth announced it is seeking proposals for a location for a second headquarters.
The company explained it was bursting at the seams there and asked metropolitan areas across the nation if they’d like to be considered for what has become known as Amazon’s HQ2.
At stake: 50,000 potential jobs with annual salaries of $100,000 and $5 billion in economic development. Of course, the winning bidder will be expected to give plenty to Amazon in tax credits, low interest loans and other incentives.
That isn’t stopping cities and regions from across the nation, however. Reuters reported on the day of Amazon’s announcement that Dallas, Houston, Toronto, St. Louis, Kentucky, and Miami were committed to make bids. Cities including Philadelphia and Chicago have sent delegations to Seattle.
On Thursday, Mark Zandi and Adam Ozimek of West Chester-based Moody’s Analytics issued an analysis of that found both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh rank high in meeting Amazon’s criteria.
Using Amazon’s stated preferences and an understanding of relevant economic factors, Moody’s look at five broad categories: business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life, and transportation.
A sixth category, geography, was considered by Moody’s and “ranks metro areas based on unstated subjective regional and geographic factors that we believe Amazon will be considering but are subject to more debate than the five other categories.
• Austin, Texas, comes in first place, according to the overall rankings, followed by Atlanta and Philadelphia.
• If geography is included, Philadelphia moves to first place and Pittsburgh moves to second place.
• Philadelphia, which does well on human capital and transportation, stands out for performing moderately in all categories while leading in none.
Sites that have been mentioned in this region in published reports are the Navy Yard and Schuylkill Yards in Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., downtown Wilmington, Del., as well as some properties in Northern Delaware. Bensalem and the Lehigh Valley have also indicated they will submit bids, according to reports.
Matt Cabrey, executive director of the Select Greater Philadelphia Council, last month acknowledged those were the first to come to his mind as he thought of Amazon’s request for bids. On Friday, as the deadline neared, Cabrey was mum on the sites his organization would recommend.
“We are focused on telling the story of the Greater Philadelphia region – business assets, quality of life, transportation infrastructure, talent – and we are doing this through a narrative that is part of our regional response to the Amazon HQ2 RFP. As we signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with Amazon, we are not sharing specifics about sites or other related aspects.”
The region will have one less competitor in the contest. On Thursday, San Antonio announced it had withdrawn from the running, CNBC reported.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also wrote an open letter to Bezos explaining their decision, saying, “it’s hard to imagine that a forward-thinking company like Amazon hasn’t already selected its preferred location,” and “the public process is creating a bidding war among states and cities.”
“Blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style,” the letter states, according to the report.