Georgia official: Amazon site visits could start in November for HQ2

A top Georgia business recruiter gave a peek behind the curtain of Georgia’s pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters on Monday.

The Georgia bid, which pitched the entire metro area and gave the e-commerce giant dozens of potential sites to peruse, focused heavily on what the metro Atlanta area could be for Amazon, and touted its workforce, research universities, transit and connections across the globe through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Tom Croteau, a top recruiter at the state Department of Economic Development, was guarded in what he could say, but the overview showed not only the scale of what Amazon has said it wants and how the state and its partners are trying to woo the company.

“This is or would be the largest economic development project in the history of Georgia: 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment over 15 years,” Croteau told the agency’s board of directors at a meeting in Midtown.

The state’s official bid is shrouded in secrecy, and Croteau said he and others are under non-disclosure agreements with Amazon. 

Croteau said the state pitched urban and suburban sites, some that can be a self-contained campus and others that could would stitch together a number of sites within the fabric of the community.

Croteau said Amazon has made it clear that it needs 500,000 square feet to 750,000 square feet immediately, and about that much in additional space every 18 months through 2027.

Though real estate is critical in the company’s decision – and developers and local governments submitted about 70 sites for the state to pitch – a capable workforce is priority No. 1 for Amazon.

The pitch, Croteau said, emphasizes workforce, which he called the driver of Amazon’s project, as well as cultural and transportation amenities.

Georgia’s bid is said to also include a bounty of incentives, including jobs tax credits and current and future transportation improvements that might entice the company.

Croteau said site visits across the country are expected to happen in November and December with the decision in 2018, but the process will happen over multiple phases. Perhaps as many as five phases.

“It’s no surprise to use for such a big decision with 50,000 jobs in the balance that a company would take nine to 12 months in this process,” he said. “With 238 locations submitting, it will certainly take a while.”

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