Kansas City apparently isn’t the prime location for Amazon’s HQ2, but area development leaders say the lessons learned from pursuing the online retail giant’s second headquarters not only united the metro, but better prepared it for future bids.
“I understand that some Kansas Citians may be disappointed by the Amazon announcement,” Mayor Sly James said Thursday in a tweet. “But it’s important to remember that as a result of this very collaborative effort, more people today know more great things about Kansas City than they ever did before. Onward & upward #KC5Stars.”
The Kansas City Area Development Council organized a massive regional bid for Amazon’s HQ2, bringing together state, county and local community partners and more than 200 private sector leaders. Mayor James himself made headlines with a creative effort to entice the gaze of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In October, James purchased 1,000 items on Amazon, dishing each a five-star rating and a comment promoting Kansas City selling points — especially affordable cost-of-living.
Amazon announced Thursday a list of 20 finalists for the new headquarters, which the company emphasized would be a “full equal” to the existing HQ in Seattle. The winning city is expected to reap $5 billion in investment and the creation of 50,000 high-paying jobs, according to Amazon.
Kansas City wasn’t among the finalists, which included such metros as Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Nashville, Toronto and Washington D.C. Check out the full list here.
“We r disappointed, but no reason to hang our heads. Our region is better for the effort,” said Tim Cowden, KCADC president and CEO in a Thursday morning tweet. “My initial reaction is @amazon focus on population density in eastern US & Texas. We left it all out there. No regrets.”
Amazon expects to make a final decision later this year.
“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, of Amazon’s Public Policy office. “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.”
Cities from Detroit and Charlotte to Orlando and Baltimore expressed disappointment Thursday in losing out on the Amazon headquarters.
“This #AmazonHQ2 finalist list is so predictable it is almost shocking,” said Marianne Navarro, an economic and community development professional in the mayor of Baltimore’s office, said in a tweet from her personal account. “Corporate enterprise likely sees very little risk investing in these places versus communities with greater social and economic needs. A missed opportunity to make a bold move.”
Kansas City was considered a leading dark horse contender for the project as recently as earlier this month, according to a report in Inc. magazine.
A supporter of KC’s proposal, Ryan Weber, KC Tech Council president, posted a forward-looking tweet shortly after Amazon’s announcement Thursday morning:
“On to the next.”