Kempner: Amazon, thanks for sort of picking Atlanta, but …


Amazon, it’s not that we’re ungrateful for Atlanta being one of your Top 20 choices for your second headquarters and 50,000 delicious jobs.

We’ll hold off celebrating or feeling like we’ve gotten some kind of affirmation until we figure out if you just like us a good bit or really love us. Yes, we do think we are all that.

With 20 communities still in the running, this short list is pretty dang long. And we’ve had some experience having great wins slip away from us late in the game.

Why now?

There’s a long way to go as you, Amazon, milk all the publicity and bidding-war hype you can get out of your decision about who wins the tech jobs lottery.

By the way, why did you announce a list of 20 rather than waiting to share a more whittled-down one? Could it be …

  • You didn’t want to keep getting pestered by communities with no chance.
  • You want to drag this out as long as you can. The only semi-commitment from you? That you expect to make a decision in 2018. Potentially 11-plus months of hype to go.
  • You think it’s good to make a lot of communities (and their congressmen) feel like you value them. You also have a real talent for writing break-up letters to 213 communities that didn’t make the cut. From the Amazon announcement: “… all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity” and “through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.” Genius.

Atlanta first

I must sheepishly admit that my breath caught when I saw the company’s press release. Atlanta is at the very top of the list. Then I saw Austin’s name right below it. Ugh. Alphabetical order.

Atlanta being in the Top 20 isn’t a surprise. The shock would have been if we weren’t. I’d like to believe we’re a Top-five candidate, even though most of our suburbs (Gwinnett, Cobb and north Fulton, etc.) don’t have what you want.

And, yes, this is a contest we want Georgia to win, despite the traffic and higher housing costs your headquarters is sure to feed. Amazon, you’d be that good for our economy, our tech aspirations and, maybe, our desire to make the community a better place for everyone.

Of course, that assumes that the incentives you, Amazon, try to cut from us like an organ transplant leave us a heart, a functioning stomach and at least one lung. I’m already guessing you’ll get more than a kidney’s worth of incentives from us. Expect more than $1 billion, plus I’ve promised you a personalized runway at the Atlanta airport, a university of some repute and free ice pop Fridays for employees.

More to give

You might get more out of the governor. He’s already committed to calling a special session of the legislature to load you up if we make a real short list.

In the meantime, the governor offered up a press release Thursday saying that he’s “excited” Atlanta made the top 20. No cartwheels yet.

Lost of other cities aren’t so lucky. Among those not on the list: Phoenix, Charlotte, Detroit, Birmingham, Kansas City, Montreal, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati and San Diego.

So I’m happy you and your chief Jeff Bezos have figured we are worth keeping around, at least for now.

Remaining in the running is hopefully pushing local and state leaders to think harder about how to make metro Atlanta worthy of being a place more people will really love.

Thanks, Amazon.



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