Opinion: Why a Ga. ‘Corporate City’ is great fit for Amazon

Jeff Bezos is known as a creative genius, taking a cardboard box and disrupting the world’s entire retail industry, making Amazon worth more than twice what the state of California spends in a year.

But channeling Bezos’ plans for Amazon for the next 10 to 20 years takes bold vision. And Bezos is a very big thinker – now exploring everything from getting into pharmaceutical sales to allowing a deliveryman access to your home.

In the race to win the site for Amazon’s second world headquarters, 238 cities, provinces and states including the state of Georgia just submitted bids to the company. Most focused on the usual giveaways from tax breaks to financing packages meant to lure any company – no matter what the company’s ticker symbol.

Amazon’s site selection team is expected to visit metro Atlanta before the end of the year, according to Georgia’s economic development officials.

But the halls of the Seattle company’s headquarters are abuzz with a proposal for metro Atlanta that is as imaginative as Bezos. It’s a plan to allow the CEO to start from scratch and build his own 21st century headquarters in Atlanta’s suburbs in a corporate city named Amazon, Georgia.

The concept of placing the retail giant in the DeKalb County suburb not only would check off the company’s “musts” but channel much of Bezos’ known creativity as well as future needs.

Last month, the newly-incorporated city of Stonecrest voted to ask the Georgia Legislature to proceed with allowing it to de-annex 345 acres so that Amazon could become a corporate city. When Georgia lawmakers convene in January, it will be atop our must-do list as odds-makers have given the Atlanta region a great shot at winning the new headquarters.

I plan to support this bipartisan legislation after it passes the House because if Amazon chooses to settle in Stonecrest, it would be an economic boon for all of DeKalb and the state of Georgia.

While Amazon only needs about half the 345 acres, the remaining land would give visionary Bezos enough room to build a master planned city of Amazon, with room to include housing, restaurants — and even Amazon shops.

This creation of a corporate city is a unique concept that no other jurisdiction has offered any company – whether trying to lure an automobile plant, new factory or corporate headquarters.

In requesting bids for site selection, Amazon listed a host of important items from metro areas with populations of more than 1 million, including access to an international airport, a business-friendly environment, good transportation and quality of life as key components.

But with Amazon approaching a market cap of almost half a trillion dollars, Bezos now may be considering other factors that channel his futuristic needs, including:

  • Amazon, Georgia, would give Bezos a marketing opportunity like no other. Since this is a mail-order company, all mail would originate from an Amazon post office; there would be an Amazon sports complex and Amazon City Hall. Stonecrest would contract to provide the city services Amazon would need such as fire, police and roads so Bezos could focus on operating his business.
  • Amazon, Georgia, would circumvent some of Atlanta’s traffic nightmares as congestion on the east side of metro Atlanta is far less difficult than inside the Perimeter or on the Northside, where other potential sites are under discussion. There is planned MARTA service to the Stonecrest/Amazon site, just in time for the opening of the corporate city. In addition, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is easily accessed from Amazon, Georgia, compared to other metro Atlanta locations.
  • There has been pressure to diversify Amazon’s workforce and leadership team as media reports a lack of minority participation in Amazon’s executive suite. Stonecrest is one of the most affluent minority communities in the nation. It would offer a highly educated minority workforce for Amazon as more than 40 percent of area residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • The low cost of living, Georgia’s business-friendly environment and, according to the Brookings Institution, the presence of major corporate headquarters such as Home Depot, Coca-Cola and UPS, along with high-tech schools elevates the appeal of metro Atlanta.

Bezos has been a disruptor to the entire retail industry. We invite his company’s site selection team to visit the proposed city of Amazon this fall and explore the unlimited opportunities if Amazon embraces a corporate city.

State Sen. Fran Millar, a Republican, represents District 40 in the Georgia State Senate.

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