In a way, Amazon already is in Indianapolis. We’re a regional logistics hub, with lots of Amazon warehouses out near the airport. I’ve met and spoken to people who work there. That’s why we have the Amazon Prime Now same-day delivery service, and also why my new Fire HD 8 tablet arrived less than 24 hours after I placed the order, at no extra charge. (And Amazon just announced it’s going to build another such hub in Atlanta, Georgia.)
But in recent weeks, Amazon has announced it’s starting the search for another city to host a full-fledged second regional headquarters, tantamount to the headquarters it has in Seattle. “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos has said. “We’re excited to find a second home.” The stated qualifications are a population of over 1 million, real estate ready for building, good quality of life, and “a stable and business-friendly environment.”
It is, of course, anybody’s guess who will end up getting the nod. The New York Times thinks Amazon’s best choice would be Denver, Colorado. Google News is full of stories on different cities that hope to host this new HQ. And here in Indianapolis, hopes are high that we’ve got a shot. The Indianapolis Star reports that the mayors of Indianapolis and satellite community Fishers are working together on a proposal to pitch Indianapolis as just the sort of place Amazon could find a good home.
In any event, the competition will surely be cutthroat. The regional headquarters could bring 50,000 new jobs with an average compensation of $100,000 to whichever lucky community is ends up the winner. The Chicago Tribune reports that over 100 cities are entering the competion.
So, things are getting a little silly in some respects. That Tribune piece reports that the mayor of Tucson, Arizona sent Jeff Bezos a 21-foot saguaro cactus as an attention-getter. The Seattle Times reports on various quirky behaviors seen around Amazon, one of which—the food trucks—are already an Indianapolis staple as well. The Indy Star has aan editorial saying that Indianapolis is “already a winner” even if it doesn’t get the HQ bid, just by having had enough economic development recently that it could even be considered as a credible contender—and another editorial saying that Indianapolis neighborhoods aren’t ready for the amount of disruption a new business that big moving in would produce.
In any case, Indianapolis already is a thriving business city, hosting a number of big businesses including Anthem, Salesforce (who recently bought the naming rights to the city’s tallest skyscraper from Chase Bank), Angie’s List, Cliff Bars, and a number of others. Job search engine Glassdoor just named us the second-best city in the country for finding a job (right behind Pittsburgh, PA). We may not have quite as much of a cultural community as other contenders, but we’ve got a lot of other great features including a nice central location and a cost of living significantly lower than the national average (and definitely lower than the west coast!)
And I have my hopes that Amazon moving in might drive other improvements, like speeding up the implementation of the new express transit routes, or getting more hotels built that could host attendees for Gen Con. It would almost certainly mean an Amazon Books bookstore somewhere downtown, and possibly even one of those new “Amazon Go” self-service shopping places they’ve been trying out at their HQ in Seattle. Given that it doesn’t seem likely I’ll be traveling to some other city to see one of those any time soon, that might be my only chance to check it out.
So, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed while I wait to see what happens. The deadline for submitting a proposal to Amazon is October 19, and it will probably be a few months after that until they make a final decision.