Like many communities across the United States, Virginia cities are excitedly scheming to impress Amazon that they are the ideal choice for the retail giant’s plans for a second headquarters that would employ a stunning workforce of 50,000 people.
Yet there’s also snarling among some of the players about trying to make private deals with Seattle-based Amazon, whose founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post.
Amazon asked that contenders submit proposals by Oct. 19 and suggested that a regional approach is the best way to go.
Hence, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has formed a group to drum up the amenities of Northern Virginia, the Richmond area and Hampton Roads and is hiring top-gun consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to help make Virginia’s case.
“I think we are at the top of the list,” McAuliffe has said.
Among Amazon’s wish list is a place that has mass transit, an international airport about 45 minutes away, more than a million people and enough space for 30 buildings on an eight-million-square-foot campus. All of the areas McAuliffe may pitch meet all of those requirements, although neither Richmond nor Hampton Roads can match Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia for global flights. Nor do they have much public transit.
For economic development players, catching Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” is sort of like the Superbowl, the World Series, the Master’s and the U.S. Open all rolled into one. It seems so massive and wonderful that it defies imagination.
McAuliffe is touting such advantages as the huge concentration of Internet traffic in Northern Virginia, the state’s available and well-educated workforce, its closeness to the international scene in the District, deepwater ports and its location midway along the East Coast.
Marring the regional marketing campaign is a flap involving Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms’s private approach to Amazon officials to get them to consider Virginia Beach individually. One sales point he has made is that Virginia Beach will be the terminus of a new transoceanic, high-speed data cable project that will link the city to Spain and points east.
Sessoms’s private pitch reportedly infuriated state officials and legislators. Virginia Beach, however, is pitching in $200,000 for the McKinsey report.
Of course, there are plenty of other big and middle-size cities that would just love to land Amazon’s HQ2. The business press is swamped with reports about which burgs are supposedly the leaders. Major competition for Virginia appears to be from the Atlanta and Boston areas, both of which have everything Virginia has – even more so when it comes to convenient international airports and public transit.
There is a sense among anxious Virginia officials that Bezos has a soft spot in his heart for the state because of his relationship with The Post. But Maryland also is interested in HQ2. And it, like Northern Virginia, has a nice international airport and public transit among other attributes.
Peter Galuszka is a regular contributor to All Opinions Are Local.