Georgia recruiters crowdsourcing for sites to pitch Amazon for HQ2

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Georgia recruiters crowdsourcing for sites to pitch Amazon for HQ2

Got 100 acres or more to sell? Is it near a bus or MARTA rail line, and within 45 minutes of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?

If the answers are yes to those questions, the Georgia Department of Economic Development wants to hear from you. The state’s top recruiting agency has set up a web page to essentially crowdsource locations to pitch to e-commerce giant Amazon as part of the state’s pitch for what the company calls HQ2, a new corporate hub where Amazon says it’ll one-day house 50,000 jobs.

Pedestrians walk past a recently built trio of geodesic domes that are part of the Seattle headquarters for Amazon, Sept. 7, 2017. The online retail giant said it was searching for a second headquarters in North America in 2017, a huge new development that would cost as much as $5 billion to build and run, and house as many as 50,000 employees. (Stuart Isett/The New York Times) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta is competing with just about every other large metropolitan area in North America for the new second headquarters. HQ2 could potentially total more than 8 million square feet of office space, and Amazon has said its new jobs would pay an average of more than $100,000 a year.

“Amazon is performing a competitive site selection process and is considering metro regions in North America for its second corporate headquarters,” the web page says. “If you feel like your community or property meets or exceeds the needs of the project described in the RFP (request for proposals), and have a site to submit – please fill out this form and submit to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) for consideration.”

Headquarters recruiting is often a secretive business, and the state economic development team declined to comment on the web page. 

But the web page is a novel approach by the state to find a broader pool of potential sites around the metro area that recruiters might not have considered. 

A rendering looking north of the planned development around the former Turner Field to be known as Summerhill for the historic neighborhood surrounding what is now Georgia State Stadium. A development team led by Carter plans a mix of residences, offices, retail and restaurants. SPECIAL The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The form also asks about fiber internet capabilities, cellular service, whether it’s within 2 miles of a major highway and if there’s room for expansion on the property or nearby to 8 million square feet of office space. Those requirements are contained in Amazon’s RFP.

Amazon triggered what many observers expect to be a bidding war Sept. 7 when it outlined its demands: a metro area of 1 million or more people, a “business-friendly environment” with links to international airports, a high quality of living and transit.

Some have equated the hunt for HQ2 with a bid for an Olympic Games, except here the prize isn’t a few summer weeks of tourists and international attention, but jobs and investment from one of the world’s best-known companies. 

The site of the former General Motors plant is cut off from the rest of Doraville by freight rail lines and the MARTA tracks. Developers of the property want to create an incentive package to help pay for critical infrastructure on the site, including a covered street that would go under the tracks to connect the site with the rest of Doraville. J. Scott Trubey/strubey@ajc.com The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Most economic analysts have Atlanta among the potential finalists. The list of likely sites that could house the mammoth campus include downtown Atlanta’s Gulch, the former General Motors plant in Doraville, Fort McPherson south of downtown and even the High Street site near Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody.

Construction of the Below Grade Crossing at Murphy Avenue on the West Side Trail on the westside Atlanta Beltline on August 2, 2017. Could the Beltline’s cool help Atlanta win Amazon? (Rebecca Breyer) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The city of Atlanta has other candidates, including several sites along the Beltline and the project backed by development firm Carter in the parking lots north of the former Turner Field.

The state and city could also assemble land on the city’s Westside. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has plans for substantial redevelopment of its Technology Enterprise Park where Amazon might make a good fit.

Bids are due Oct. 19, and the company will decide by next year.

Rendering of the High Street project in Dunwoody just west of Perimeter Mall. Source: GID Urban Developement The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

At a Tuesday event at the new Honeywell North American Software Center and division headquarters in Midtown, leaders touted the state’s success in recruiting new and expanding businesses. Amazon was on the minds of many in the room.

Pat Wilson, the state’s chief recruiter and the commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, said Gov. Nathan Deal has made clear Amazon’s project is a big deal.

“We have some amazing assets to sell. That’s what Honeywell bought,” Wilson said. “All of that adds up to a great story, whether you are an Amazon or you’re an automaker or you are a distribution center. All that adds up to a great equation for Georgia.”

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