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The Cloud Gate in Millennium Park in Chicago. (Photo via Bigstock)

Chicago really wants Amazon to build its next headquarters in the Windy City.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Amazon to build second HQ in North America 

That’s the message from leaders who just formed a 600-person committee — yes, 600! — co-led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in order to help lure “Amazon HQ2” to the nation’s third most-populous city, The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Loop Capital Chairman and CEO Jim Reynolds, and Abbott Chairman and CEO Miles White will chair the committee, which includes members from the business, technology, financial, and other various industries.

Some think that forming a 600-person committee isn’t the right way to lure Amazon. Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, one of Chicago’s most prominent tech startups, noted that Bezos doesn’t like big committees — keeping teams small is one of his leadership principles.

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this month that Mayor Emanuel has spoken directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos “several times” about building the company’s second headquarters in Chicago. Pritzker was also in Seattle last week visiting Amazon’s main campus, according to Crain’s.

Amazon made the surprise announcement earlier this month, asking cities around North America to submit proposals for its second headquarters. The news sparked reaction from city leaders across the country who invited Amazon to bring the proposed $5 billion “Amazon HQ2” and 50,000 jobs to their metro.

Here are the four main criteria that Amazon set out in its HQ2 RFP:

  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options

Chicago meets many of the requirements laid out by Amazon for its new headquarters. Mayor Emanuel touted the city’s young talent pool, public transportation infrastructure, and low cost of living in an interview with Business Insider. He also this week issued a press release celebrating the record number of tower cranes in the city.

Chicago was the fifth-highest-scoring North American city in this analysis by GeekWire contributor Tim Ellis that ranked potential Amazon HQ2 cities on data.

GeekWire editor John Cook also noted Chicago in his list of six cities that Amazon should consider for its new hub:

The Windy City already poached one Seattle area corporate titan when Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2001. Could it happen again? A big city, with big ambitions to grow its tech credibility, Chicago already employs over 143,000 people in its tech sector, including 44,000 in software engineering and development. It does not boast an MIT, Carnegie Mellon, University of Toronto or University of Texas, but Chicago’s cosmopolitan appeal, welcoming culture and central location could serve it well as a contender for Amazon’s second headquarters. Amazon plans to have more than 8,000 employees working in Illinois by the end of next year (most in fulfillment centers), and the state has shown a history of doling out massive tax incentives to lure the company.  A transportation hub, Chicago could be a relatively easy commute from Seattle.

Chicago is taking nominations for potential locations to build Amazon HQ2. The Chicago Tribune noted several potential sites that could house the new headquarters. Amazon’s request for proposals gives a deadline of Oct. 17, with a site selection and announcement slated for 2018.

“We’re looking for partners to put their best foot forward and help us determine which sites have the best potential to drive growth for Amazon and Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said in a press release. “While we have many sites that meet Amazon’s requirements, there is only one city that offers unmatched potential for future success – Chicago.”

Other potential cities Amazon could build its “HQ2” include Toronto, Austin, Boston, and others.

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