Chicago, Illinois submit official bid to lure Amazon

by Kelly McCabe

Amazon’s recent announcement that it is seeking a location for a new second headquarters sent cities around the country — and even in Canada — scrambling to submit proposals to lure the ecommerce giant. Naturally, Chicago wants in on the action to further bolster its reputation as a technology hub and to get an additional 50,000 jobs under its belt.

On Oct. 16, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner submitted an official bid to win Amazon’s new headquarters, dubbed HQ2, three days before the deadline of Oct. 19. Amazon officials have said the site will be chosen sometime in 2018.

“Chicago offers unparalleled potential for future growth for businesses of all sizes and is the ideal place for Amazon to build its HQ2,” Emanuel said. “This bid will demonstrate to Amazon that Chicago has the talent, transportation and technology to help the company as it reaches new heights and continues to thrive for generations to come.”

Local officials are going all in to make sure Chicago is the frontrunner to land HQ2, with Emanuel and Rauner forming a 600-person committee full of leaders of various industries to lead the effort.  Some members include former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and the heads of United Airlines, Abbott and Loop Capital, as well as neighborhood and nonprofit leaders.

Though the proposal from Emanuel and Rauner doesn’t specify a site for HQ2, four appear to be in the running:

  • The former A. Finkl & Sons steel plant adjacent to the North Branch of the Chicago River in Lincoln Park and Bucktown;
  • The Old Chicago Post Office downtown;
  • The former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville, adjacent to Lake Michigan and just south of McCormick Place; and
  • A site owned by Tribune Media along the Chicago River near the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

Potential cash cow

While Amazon HQ2 is expected to directly provide about 50,000 jobs, over its first 10 years, it’s expected to indirectly generate 37,500 more jobs in the region, with $71 billion in wages. Over that first decade, construction alone is forecast to require $7.4 billion in spending, 3,500 more jobs and $2.4 billion in wages.

“Amazon represents an extraordinary opportunity for Illinois to grow jobs, attract new residents, and build our tax base,” Rauner said. “Our bid makes a powerful business case, linking our advantages in innovation, commerce and R&D with Amazon’s aspirations for growth and talent recruitment.”

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