Casey to Amazon: Pick PennsylvaniaSenator cites 'stable business-friendly environment'
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey believes one of Pennsylvania's cities would be "an ideal location" for Amazon's proposed second headquarters.
In a letter to Amazon President and CEO Jeff Bezos, the Scranton Democrat extolled the virtues of the state's educational institutions, infrastructure and "stable business-friendly environment," in addition to "an existing relationship and significant Amazon presence" in Pennsylvania.
Among Amazon's facilities in the commonwealth are four distribution centers in Central Pennsylvania, including sites in Cumberland and York counties.
But Pennsylvania will find itself up against stiff competition in the feeding frenzy among cities and states looking to attract the Seattle-based online retailer's second North American headquarters, or HQ2, plans for which were announced Thursday.
HQ2 is expected to cost $5 billion and projected to employ as many as 50,000 people.
Does Pennsylvania have what it takes? Casey believes so, citing:
• A "talented, highly-skilled workforce" that has designed, manufactured and distributed world class locomotives, motorcycles, musical instruments, baseball jerseys, steel, "and for decades directly contributed to making major global companies into top competitors across various industries."
• "Outstanding academic institutions," he said, "including but not limited to the Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University."
• Three major ports and access markets, several highly traveled interstate corridors, a robust railroad network, and commercially important inland waterways.
"Given that Amazon has several fulfillment centers and a sort center in Pennsylvania, the organization is aware of the state’s ideal location as an East Coast and Mid-Atlantic hub for commercial activity and freight distribution," he added.
Based on Amazon's reported requirements, could Harrisburg and the midstate fit the bill?
The company is looking to locate near a metro area with more than a million people, be within 45 minutes of an international airport, have access to mass transit and offer the ability to expand HQ2 by up to 8 million feet over the next 10 years -- in addition to attracting top technical talent.
Within Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh most closely fit those requirements.
Already, officials in both cities say they will make pitches to land HQ2.
In Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted he is "on it," while Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted that his city would be a "PRIME" location, riffing on Amazon's well-known premium membership service.
In a withering analysis piece, Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen predicted that the battle will come down to Toronto, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Dallas or Denver.
The uphill slog for Amazon's attention clearly isn't deterring politicians across the U.S. and Canada, including Casey.
He closed by encouraging Bezos to "meet with all interested Pennsylvania stakeholders, city representatives and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to discuss state programs and incentives that may be available."
"I look forward to the opportunity to work with you to utilize any federal programs that may be relevant," Casey wrote.