Amazon HQ2 bonanza includes Cincy/Dayton submission, other Ohio cities

Fifth Third Field and the Delco Lofts in the Water Street District. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Fifth Third Field and the Delco Lofts in the Water Street District. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Dayton and Cincinnati’s combined bid for Amazon’s second headquarters will be met with fierce competition around Ohio and across the U.S.

The e-commerce giant sparked a bidding war when it asked for proposals on where in North America to invest $5 billion in its second headquarters, which it said will employ up to 50,000 people and rival its current headquarters in Seattle.

RELATED: Amazon confirms new lease by Cincinnati airport

Submissions are due Thursday for proposals on where to put the headquarters.

Dayton and Cincinnati announced earlier this month that the two cities would be teaming to try to attract Amazon with their combined assets, noting the combined Dayton-Cincinnati area is the 15th largest region in the U.S.

“The application is a collaborative one that supports a mutual outcome for Amazon coming to Cincinnati-Dayton region,” Shelley Dickstein, Dayton city manager, said at the time.

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Columbus Ohio Skyline at Sunset with Rich Street Bridge.

Columbus Ohio Skyline at Sunset with Rich Street Bridge.

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Columbus Ohio Skyline at Sunset with Rich Street Bridge.

All the other largest cities in Ohio are also planning to throw their hat in the ring. Cleveland's mayor said in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that it wants to compete for the headquarters. A spokeswoman for the city of Columbus confirmed Wednesday it turned in a proposal. Toledo and its smaller suburb Maumee teamed up to submit two sites in their region with a joint application.

LOCAL: Dayton job fair aimed at hiring customer service reps 

Clark County leaders decided this month that they would not submit a bid, saying even if they somehow landed the project, it does not have the resources to sustain a headquarters of that scale. Horton Hobbs, of the Community Improvement Corp.of Springfield and Clark County, said in an email to its members that applying would be a "futile effort of both time and energy."

With more than 6,000 Amazon employees already working in Ohio, bringing Amazon’s second headquarter would be a major win for the state. However, the state is not “showing its cards” in the Amazon attraction game and will not say if it’s using a coordinated effort to bring the company to the Buckeye State.

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JobsOhio, the state’s private development arm, is typically involved when the state government offers large incentives to lure companies. The economic group, however, declined to comment on any involvement it might have, with a spokesman saying “We do not share whether or not we are in project discussions with companies.”

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle in a June 2014 file image. In a press release Thursday, Amazon announced it is planning to build a second, ‘equal’ headquarters in another city. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle in a June 2014 file image. In a press release Thursday, Amazon announced it is planning to build a second, ‘equal’ headquarters in another city. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle in a June 2014 file image. In a press release Thursday, Amazon announced it is planning to build a second, ‘equal’ headquarters in another city. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)

Ohio’s congressional delegation, including both Ohio senators and all 16 representatives of both parties, pitched Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos on the state’s assets, according to an Oct. 5 letter obtained by the Associated Press.

The delegation noted the state’s strengths like its high-quality higher education network, large and talented workforce, robust transportation infrastructure and “business-friendly” environment.

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But as for Dayton specifically? Bezos is looking for a metro already popular with tech professionals. As a Seattle Times columnist put it bluntly, given these preferences "HQ2 is not going to Gary, Ind., or Dayton, Ohio. Amazon is not running a charity."

The city of Dayton has a collection of sites that could work as Amazon’s new home, and so does Cincinnati and other parts of the southwest Ohio region, which will be promoted collaboratively, Dickstein said. Southwest Ohio region is not alone in its communities making a joint pitch to Amazon. Some communities and jurisdictions in California, New York and other states are banding together in the hopes it will improve their desirability.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley confirmed the bid package includes two riverfront locations, The Banks and a 13-acre site in Newport, Ky. Economic officials called the bid package “extraordinary” but would not release details.

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The short distance separating Dayton and Cincinnati means there are opportunities to try to grow the cities strategically to improve their connectivity and economic and market strength, officials said. Dayton and Cincinnati is going to become more like the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., and Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, city officials said.

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Amazon has also made it clear it wants cities to pay to play. Most cities haven't shared details of their bids so its not clear exactly how much the winner will have to pay, though Newark, N.J., said its offering $7 billion in incentives. A Wall Street Journal story quoted an official involved in the Boeing's record breaking $8.7 billion incentive deal it squeezed out of Washington, saying the Amazon deal could break that record.

Ray Watson, a partner at Dallas-based US Consults, which helped Taylor Communications on its downtown Dayton incentive deal, said cities in Ohio might not be able to compile the largest tax incentive deal but with a lower cost of living and doing business, cities can sometimes competitively bid on projects with smaller tax credit deals.

“Say like a Columbus, Ohio, may not be able to put $7 billion in tax credits on the table, but they may not need to,” Watson said.

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The bigger issue for Amazon, Watson said, is going to be wanting a community that can fill up 50,000 jobs, and it will be looking for a large and highly educated population to meet that need.

Watson said Ohio overall is a competitive option with assets like a strong university system and a government interested in working with businesses to draw them in.

“I think Ohio has a good chance,” he said.

Watson said while Dayton probably isn’t in the running, he said the city’s leadership and the positive direction its been heading will attract other opportunities.

“I think you are probably going to see Amazon going somewhere else because of how big it is, but I think you’re going to see a lot of positive things coming to Dayton,” he said.

Some cities have gone beyond financial incentives to attract Amazon.

A Georgia city offered to work with the state to create a new city named Amazon if it agreed to come to come to the location, said the Atlanta Journal Constitution.


Amazon HQ2: By the numbers

• $5 billion: Expected investment

• 50,000: Jobs expected at second HQ

• 1,000: jobs created by new Monroe fulfillment center

• 6,000: Amazon employees already working in the state

What does Amazon want for its second headquarters location?

• Metropolitan areas with more than one million people

• Access to mass transit at the site

• A stable and business-friendly environment

• Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options

• Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent

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