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September 20, 2017

Philly's push for new Amazon headquarters now includes staffer's visit to retailer's Seattle campus

City spokesperson said intent of trip was to get a better feel for e-commerce giant's 'culture and impact'

Philadelphia's effort to become the home to Amazon's second headquarters now includes sending a representative from the city out to Seattle, where the online retailer is based, to get a feel for the company's "culture."

Lauren Cox, spokesperson for the city's department of commerce, confirmed to PhillyVoice on Wednesday that a staffer from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation recently traveled to the Pacific Northwest to meet "with several local insiders to get a better sense of Amazon's culture and the impact they have had on the city of Seattle." The detail was first reported by CNBC.

Cox stressed the informality of the trip and said the Seattle stop was added to previously planned trip's itinerary. She also declined to name the PIDC staffer who made the visit to Amazon's campus, but did say the person spent "about" 24 hours in Seattle.

It was not revealed who the PIDC staffer met with, but Cox did say that "she had a chance to walk around and also take some meetings with a few connections we have in Seattle."

"We’re certainly taking the bid seriously, and think we have a great shot," Cox said. "Philly's affordability, diversity, talent pipeline and location, provides a great quality of life and also makes it a responsible business choice."

The PIDC is a nonprofit founded by the city and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The PIDC, which has overseen the redevelopment of the former Navy Yard property in South Philly, looks to spur business and other economic growth.

Amazon announced earlier this month it is on the lookout for a location for a second North American headquarters, which will cost more than $5 billion to build and bring about 50,000 jobs within two decades to whichever city it chooses.

Mayor Jim Kenney took to Twitter almost immediately after Amazon's announcement to endorse Philly as a candidate for the new HQ.

The e-commerce giant has a solid wishlist for the city, according to CNBC. The new location should have a population of more than 1 million, an international airport, public transportation system, good colleges and universities and a "solid business climate." 

Adam Ozimek, an economist who hails from Pennsylvania, made his case for Amazon to choose the City of Brotherly Love in a recent column for Forbes magazine, though other experts' opinions have generally been mixed

Kenney appeared on Bloomberg on Tuesday to make yet another pitch. He said that the city's proposal is being worked up by the Philadelphia Commerce Department and the PIDC.

Officials also launched its #PhillyDelivers campaign just 10 days after Amazon's announcement, which asks residents, via a five-question survey, how they would like to get involved with bringing the company to Philly. 

"What we all know is that Philly’s biggest strength lies in our embodiment of our motto as the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection," the campaign reads. "Because when we work together, our rich diversity ensures we can rise to any challenge. I’ve been so thrilled by the outpouring of support from people like you!"

Cities have until Oct. 19 to submit a proposal. Amazon is set to make a final decision next year.