Amazon has an opportunity to redefine how a corporation can help shape a city.
That’s the message from The Boston Globe, which published a “newsroom commentary” piece titled “Dear Jeff” on Sunday detailing how Boston could serve as a home for Amazon’s new headquarters — and how Amazon could help solve Boston’s problems.
Last month Amazon made a surprise announcement that it plans to build a second headquarters in a North American city to be determined. Boston meets many of the requirements for “Amazon HQ2,” which Amazon says will cost $5 billion and bring 50,000 jobs to the selected city. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told the Boston Business Journal that “if Amazon wants an East Coast headquarters, I don’t see any city better in America than Boston, Massachusetts.”
The Boston Globe commentary imagines different possibilities for how Amazon and Boston could work together and solve problems related to transportation, education, housing, and more. It serves as both a pitch to Amazon to build its HQ2 in Boston — the Globe imagines five potential HQ2 sites, for example — and also a quality of life improvement brainstorm session of sorts, outlining “3 right-now problems we could use your help solving.”
“You could chase bigger tax breaks and cheaper real estate in any number of other cities,” the Globe writes. “But how about a true partnership that reimagines the relationship between a city and the big companies it hosts? If you choose Boston as your second home, help make our city better for those of us who already live here.”
Many of the problems laid out by the Globe, like poor transportation infrastructure and rising housing costs, are also prevalent in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. But Amazon has yet to get creative in working with the city to solve these types of issues, so it’s not clear how and if the company would do so in its new city.
Boston does seem to be a frontrunner for landing HQ2. Bloomberg reported last month that senior-level Amazon execs are pushing for the company to put the new headquarters in Boston, where the tech giant already has several ties.
GeekWire editor John Cook noted Boston in his list of six cities that Amazon should consider for its new hub; Boston was also the highest-scoring U.S. city in this analysis by GeekWire contributor Tim Ellis that ranked potential cities on data.
While Walsh may have voiced his support for a greater Amazon presence in Boston, he told The Boston Globe that “we are not going to get into a bidding war with another city over something like this.” In the same piece, the Globe also noted expensive housing, transportation infrastructure, and labor shortage in Boston as potential reasons for why Amazon would go elsewhere.
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
Other potential cities Amazon could build its “HQ2” include Toronto, Austin, Chicago, and others.
Amazon’s request for proposals gives a deadline of Oct. 17, with a site selection and announcement slated for 2018.