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September 11, 2017

Economist makes case for putting Amazon headquarters in Philly

Opinions are mixed about how Philadelphia stacks up as a potential option for Amazon's second home, but one economist is making an admittedly biased case for the City of Brotherly Love.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant announced last week that it plans to build a second North American headquarters. The city that lands the $5 billion facility and 50,000 new jobs will need a population of at least a million people, an international airport, good colleges and universities, public transportation and an educated workforce.

In his column for Forbes, economist Adam Ozimek, a native Pennsylvanian who graduated from Temple University, made a "full-throated" case for Philly on Sunday.

Ozimek wrote that the city has momentum, pointing to the city's growth in employment over the past four years as well as the construction of several high-rises in Center City and University City. He also noted that the city's median gross rent, at $922, is lower than the national average ($928) and several other cities that may be considered.

Other factors Ozimek cited include the $900 million improvements the airport is getting, universities like Penn and Drexel, the number of Amazon fulfillment centers already in Pennsylvania and Philly's "relatively well-functioning transit system," aka SEPTA.

Ozimek listed the Navy Yard, 30th Street Station District, uCity Square or Pennovation Works as potential locations for the Amazon headquarters in the city.

He concluded:

So that is my case for Philadelphia. It’s centrally located between New York and DC, in a state with a growing number of fulfillment centers, and is a low cost, booming, major metro with an airport, good public transportation, and leading universities. It's a city on the upswing with great assets but lots of room to improve, and Amazon can save money by getting in on closer to the ground floor... but not as dangerously close to the ground floor as with some other post-industrial cities that are just beginning to turn around.

Are there reasons not to choose Philly? Of course. The city's wage tax is onerous, and some of the public services are low quality. The level of trash on the streets and sidewalks in some neighborhoods is really incredible. And Eagles fans are... lets just say, a bit much. But the pros outweigh the cons according to my extremely biased calculations.

You can read Ozimek's full case for Philly here.