New Amazon headquarters in Kansas? State officials start work to bid for tech giant offices

In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, file photo, the Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. Amazon announced Thursday, Sept. 7, that it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening. (May 2017 file photograph/The Associated Press)

A dual-state pitch to bring a new Amazon headquarters to the Kansas City area is on the table after Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said Kansas was prepared to bid for the tech giant.

 

In a statement released Friday, Kansas City Area Development Council president and CEO Tim Cowden said the organization was working with partners in both states to assemble the bid.

“Amazon has requested one proposal from each market with populations over 1 million, so we will only win the Amazon HQ2 if we respond as one region,” Cowden said. “That is exactly what KCADC is built to do.”

Amazon issued a request for proposals last week to add another headquarters in addition to its Seattle home. Bids are due next month, and Colyer said in a statement Thursday that Kansas state and local officials have been meeting to discuss developing a proposal.

“Presently, state and local officials are meeting to discuss the development of an aggressive proposal that would meet all the requirements of the Amazon RFP,” Colyer said. “Through these meetings, a process will be developed to coordinate efforts for delivering to Amazon a response by their October 19 deadline.”

Kansas Department of Commerce spokesman Kevin Doel said in an email that the Kansas City Area Development Council would facilitate a “unified response” from the Kansas City area.

“Communities on both sides of the state line within that [metropolitan statistical area] are identifying sites that meet the requirements of the RFP, and Commerce will provide the incentive proposal that will apply to any site in the state of Kansas,” Doel said.

Colyer, who will become governor when Gov. Sam Brownback steps down to join President Donald Trump’s administration, said he thought Kansas had the resources to meet the bid’s requirement. He didn’t say where he thought a new Amazon headquarters might be placed.

“Kansas offers a trained and ready workforce, a central location with excellent transportation and easy access to anywhere in the country, and the type of lifestyle that Amazon would desire for its employees,” Colyer said. “Our colleges and universities are already producing the kind of technology-trained workforce Amazon would be seeking for their new headquarters.”

Amazon declined to comment, but according to its website and request for proposals, the company expects to invest more than $5 billion to build a campus “equal to Amazon’s current campus in Seattle” and create up to 50,000 jobs that pay an average salary exceeding $100,000 each year.

“Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy – every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s economy overall,” the website said.

The company is looking for a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, a “stable and business-friendly environment,” urban or suburban areas that can attract talent and communities “that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

Colyer said the impact of a new Amazon headquarters would be “enormous” and could help spur a “major technology hub.”

“We believe even more technology businesses will spring up anywhere nearby the new Amazon headquarters, providing excellent, high-paying jobs for Kansans and future graduates from our universities,” Colyer said.

Amazon already has fulfillment centers in Kansas.

“GO Topeka stands ready to assist the Greater Kansas City area by actively participating with our regional partners in creating an innovative, unified response to showcase why our region is the best place for Amazon HQ2,” Molly Howey, GO Topeka senior vice president for economic development, said in an email.

Kansas Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said in an email that the chamber had been in contact with the Kansas Department of Commerce “about how it may assist in the effort to bring Amazon to Kansas.”

The chamber’s president and CEO, Alan Cobb, said in a statement that the chamber was ready to “help Kansas tell its story and bring Amazon to our state.”

“This is a great opportunity for our state to showcase why its pro-business climate would help make Amazon’s second headquarters a success — our workforce and logistics infrastructure to name a few,” Cobb said.

Brownback said he has advocated business-friendly policies and bringing workers and employers to Kansas, but his signature tax cuts were mostly rolled back by the Legislature this year.

Colyer said he thought Kansas had a ready workforce.

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