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Expect fierce competition, hurdles in Amazon bid

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It's a long list with big names.

The number of cities and metro areas saying they may submit a bid for Amazon's second headquarters already is well over 50, by some counts. Others peg the list at more than 100.

With applications due Oct. 19, communities across North America are vying for the chance to host the Seattle-based e-commerce giant's "HQ2," a $5 billion investment expected to employ up to 50,000 people.

As the Business Journal has reported, The Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. (CREDC) arepreparing what officials call a multicounty proposal to locate HQ2 on the grounds of the former Harrisburg State Hospital in Dauphin County, a site currently owned by the state Department of General Services.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan statistical area, with a population of 565,006 as of 2015, falls short of the 1 million population mark set by Amazon, one of several key benchmarks. In their bid, however, local officials, are citing the greater Central Pennsylvania region, which has a population above the minimum.

Among Amazon’s criteria: access to an international airport, a metropolitan population of more than 1 million, strong local transit and a stable business community.

Also: financial incentives, something that could cost Pennsylvania if one of the state's cities snags the bid, as PennLive pointed out.

But those benchmarks aren't stopping communities big and small from getting in on the competition. Here are just a few notable contenders.

Denver

According to a report by The Denver Post, the team behind Colorado’s official bid has "narrowed potential locations to eight and is feverishly working to complete its proposal to persuade the Seattle retailer to pick the Denver area.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., which represents nine counties, screened nearly 30 sites, the paper reported, but would not divulge the final eight, citing a nondisclosure agreement with Amazon.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade plans to submit the bid to Amazon on Oct. 16, with all sites on an equal footing.

Pittsburgh

Booming thanks to its own tech renaissance, greater Pittsburgh would be an ideal fit for the game-changing retailer's second base, officials in Western Pennsylvania argue.

And, as the Post-Gazette suggests, two Amazon executives with deep ties to Pittsburgh could be the region's best cheerleaders.

Philadelphia

Pennsylvania's largest city is so keen on landing Amazon that officials even sent a representative to Seattle to to help "understand the Amazon culture," CNBC reported.

With at least three potential sites within the city limits, high-quality education and medical centers, a growing millennial population and a strong transit network, Philly was ranked among the top four cities most likely to win the competition, financial site Benzinga reported.

The others: New York, Chicago and Boston.

Boston

About Boston ... The hometown Boston Globe points out that the New England metropolis is "a vibrant technology hub, rich in culture, brimming with smart ideas, and home to prestigious universities that pump out an endless supply of top talent."

At the same time, the paper notes that it's also "costly and congested, with decaying roads and rail lines and — at times — a cranky disposition toward bold changes." And that, the paper adds, "sounds more like the kind of place that could send West Coast technology types running for the exits."

And, the Boston Herald notes, Massachusetts could submit as many as 20 bids from locations around the state.

Amazon City, Ga.

One Southern city's approach is somewhat different: de-annex a proposed site so Amazon can create its own city on the land.

That's what Stonecrest, Ga. proposes to do, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

"There are several major U.S. cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company," Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary told the paper. "How could you not want your 21st century headquarters to be located in a city named Amazon?"

Canada

Toronto — Canada's largest city and a tech hub in its own right — has been pegged by some observers as an especially strong candidate, thanks to being a hub of education, finance and innovative transportation.

But the Ontario capital is not the lone aspirant north of the border. Vancouver also is making a bid, as are Ottawa and Calgary.

Washington State

Though it may seem like a longshot, some cities in Washington State are seeking to keep HQ2 close to home, The Seattle Times reports.

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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Deb C. October 18, 2017 8:57 am

If Amazon were smart, they would go to a 'right to work' state.

Richard Norford October 10, 2017 1:58 pm

To those courting Amazon.

Let's start with making our community more inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists.

As a frequent visitor to Amazon's headquarters in Seattle as a vendor, the number of bicycles parked in front of the various buildings is huge.

When an area is more inviting to biking and walking it is a better place to live work and play.

Richard Norford
Bicycle South Central PA

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