Under a banner of “Connections that Deliver,” elected officials from Tacoma and Pierce County gathered at Pantages Theater today to dispatch a “Welcome Home, Amazon” message in the guise of a formal proposal to host HQ2, the global retail giant’s prospective next headquarters.
On Sept. 7, the Seattle-based conglomerate issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting communities all across North America to bid to host a second corporate headquarters projected to cost $5 billion and bring 50,000 new jobs to one lucky marketplace.
Bruce Kendall, president of the local Economic Development Board, said the response crafted by a 50-member team across all local agencies and government offices exceeds the 33 criteria specified by the RFP.
“HQ2’s fit with Tacoma-Pierce County is ideal; we have unparalleled build-out opportunities (for new office buildings in downtown Tacoma), which will accelerate the time to construction,” Kendall says. “We have the tech workforce” — a later speaker noted that 99,000 Pierce County residents drive north each workday morning to their jobs.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland adds, “We want a partner to grow with us. We’re not seeking a salvation” from Amazon. “Our downtown footprint is ‘just right’ to accommodate HQ2. (And) we are far enough away (from Seattle’s first Amazon headquarters) to be innovative, yet close enough to be collaborative.
“And Tacoma is far enough to be competitive,” the mayor adds, with a nod to Amazon’s famously competitive culture.
Specifics of the Tacoma/South Sound proposal are not being publicly shared, as Amazon specified in its invitation to cities. Generally, “We’ve shown we can deliver; we have done big things,” adds local congressman Rep. Derek Kilmer, himself a former staff member of the local EDB operation.
Win-or-lose on the Amazon sweepstakes, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said responding to this RFP allowed all areas of the county and its cities to come together. He cited the advantages of the slightly older workforce participants locally, which brings stability to an employer, and a strong pipeline of exiting military members from Joint Base Lewis McChord and Kitsap Naval Base.
This local response was to be delivered to Amazon headquarters in Seattle today, but none of today’s participants expect to hear further until early in 2018. At least, if they do get a response asking for more information, that will undoubtedly be sent without any public comment.