Tacoma makes pitch for Amazon's second headquarters

KING 5's Jenna Hanchard reports.

Tacoma city leaders introduced their proposal Wednesday to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to town.

Elected officials from across the South Sound, including Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammier and Representative Derek Kilmer, stepped up to make the pitch to choose the City of Destiny as its second destination. 

The confidential proposal was submitted by the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County.

"We've got sites ready today with class A office space to meet their needs. We have a data center today ready to fulfill their needs. We have sites for fulfillment ready in Sumner in Lakewood in DuPont ready today to meet their needs so we can move and hit the ground running right now,” said Dammier.

"We are not seeking salvation we want a partner to grow with us. We are growing, people want to move here good things are happening," said Strickland.  

Amazon announced about a month ago its intention to build a second headquarters that is expected to bring in as many 50,000 jobs and $5 billion to whatever city it chooses.

Amazon said it is looking for a wide range of opportunities in its newest headquarters city, including quick access to an international airport and mass transit, excellent site options, and the ability to attract a global workforce.

Related: Is HQ2 worth it to a city? Look to Seatttle to find out

Per the agreement with Amazon, Tacoma city leaders are unable to disclose where they would build if Amazon were to choose them.

“We found that by doing the research and putting together a team of people together, about 50 people we brought together for the response, we were able to give them great site options,” Economic Development Board President and CEO Bruce Kendall said.

Kendall said Tacoma is a very attractive option for a number of reasons including proximity to their first headquarters.

“They’ll be close enough to have a lot of easy collaboration back and forth, but far enough away to engender inter-company competition,” Kendall said. “So far enough away to be able to compete, but close enough to be able to collaborate.”

Some say proximity, however, may hurt them. Kendall said that they did check in with Amazon to ensure that they are open to another headquarters in Washington.

“We did check in with Amazon when we first got the request for proposals to make sure that if we stepped up to this opportunity, which we’re very excited about, that we were going to be in the mix, meaning that we would be accepted as a community that could put a proposal forward. And they were very reassuring on that,” Kendall said.

According to Amazon’s request for proposals, the final site selection and announcement will occur in 2018.

Some Tacoma residents like John Carman said they want to see diversity in Tacoma's growth.

"The South Sound needs something more than industrial."

Carman; however, is torn.

"Ideologically, I hate Amazon.  They're forcing me sometimes to use them because I can't get that product any other place, but realistically, I want them to stay here I want those jobs," said Carman.

But others, including Liza Higbee Robinson, question who will get those jobs.

"I'm not sure whether the jobs would benefit us or not - us as in the people that are here right now," she said.

Area leaders, however, say Tacomans need to be able to find work where they live

"We've got about 99,000 people that commute north every day. What about a good opportunity to give them a good family wage job here," said Dammier.

However, being close to Seattle, the home of Amazon's first headquarters, some wonder if Tacoma even has a chance.

"They're going to go to go to someplace where they can tell the public that they've tapped a new workforce, that they aren't just expanding and giving all the [benefits] to the Pacific Northwest,” said Carman.

But leaders believe they have a strong chance.

"We’re close enough to collaborate but far enough away to compete. We're like them, but different enough that we can build their organization," said Dammier.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ve some really big projects. We’ve done State Farm, we’ve done some aerospace supply firms, all very big projects, but nothing this large,” Kendall said. “So, by its nature, it’s going to change, and we believe in a positive way, whatever community it lands in.” 

© 2017 KING-TV


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