Opinion: Ga. and hunt for Amazon’s HQ2

12:00 p.m Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 Opinion
Seth Wenig/AP
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, file photo, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, right, speaks while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stands behind him during an announcement in Newark, N.J. The New Jersey lawmakers announced they are submitting a bid to Amazon that Newark would be the best location for the company's planned second headquarters. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

It’s not hyperbole that the national competition to land Amazon’s second headquarters has been compared to a reality-TV show. We have little doubt that many, if not most, elected officials would readily don a tophat or ball gown and perform their hearts out for all to see if it would boost their jurisdiction’s chances of landing this world-class economic jewel. It’s that big a deal.

As is expected of a city and state with world-class ambitions, Georgia and its capital city are in this arena, fighting to land the retailing giant’s mega-prize.

We’ve got a lot of company in this pursuit. An editorial by Bloomberg View noted, “The 238 bids for HQ2 have come from 43 U.S. states and 11 provinces and territories in North America. The proposals include everything from promises of Hyperloop stations in the Midwest to a Georgia city’s offer to rename part of itself ‘Amazon.’ “The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, made his pitch by posting 1,000 product reviews. Other politicians were more conventional, dangling tax incentives for meeting job-creation targets.” More can be found elsewhere on this page on the City of Stonecrest’s proposal to de-annex part of its turf into a new city to be called, yes, Amazon.

There’s just that much at stake here. Metro Atlanta, and Georgia, have a lot to offer Amazon and we’re sure the state’s proposal trumpets our many pluses, including a business-friendly climate, relatively low taxes, access to top-notch research universities and the like. We’ve worked hard on all that, and have much to be proud of. Hopefully, it will collectively serve us in good stead as Amazon considers cities’ packages.

Even so, we all recognize — or should — that we’ve still got some things to work on if we’re to become an irresistible attraction for tech-driven, 21st-century economic powerhouses. We’re not alone among Amazon aspirants in that regard, but that doesn’t relieve us of the obligation to apply even more effort and resources to improve things like our transportation infrastructure and pre-K-through-12th-grade public education system. Our conservative stances on issues like immigration and religious liberty may be a turnoff for Amazon and similar players too.

John Schoettler, who oversees real estate for Amazon, gave a hint about the company’s worldview last month in a Washington Post story analyzing its relationship with its birthplace of Seattle. “We could have gone to the suburbs, and we could have built a campus, and we would have had an entry gate where everybody would come and go so you would be very inward- looking and very exclusive,” Schoettler said, “as opposed to being in a very urban environment where you have to look outward, so you’re very inclusive, and everyone is your neighbor - and everyone is welcome.”

From here onward until decision day, we join Georgians in hoping for the best in Amazon’s HQ hunt. Our strengths are considerable, and our shortcomings eminently fixable with the right motivation. Amazon, given its strength, workforce and influence could do very well here, we believe, and make us a better region and state as a result.

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