October 19, 2017
Sometimes, the playbook calls for a Hail Mary.
With competition stiff – and the chances of success slim – that's sometimes the best strategy left.
That's the situation dozens of North American municipalities – including Philadelphia and Camden – faced Thursday when they submitted formal bids for Amazon's second headquarters. The online retailer has pledged to build a $5 billion campus and fill it with 50,000 new, full-time employees.
Several cities – like Austin, Boston, Pittsburgh and Toronto repeatedly have been mentioned as frontrunners for the prize. Others have to try a bit harder to get noticed. And some of them just got plain silly in their attempts.
Here are a few of our favorite attempts to win over Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos:
The city with 530,000 people in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert put Amazon in the thorny position of rejecting a gift from a local economic development group.
According to AZCentral.com, the group packed up a 21-foot-tall saguaro cactus and had it delivered to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle. The wider message? That there is room in Tucson for Amazon's long-term growth.
But the company spurned the cactus, saying it could not receive gifts, and sent it back to Tucson – to a museum.
You'd think Missouri was trying to attract a new Tesla Motors plant instead of HQ2.
With a proposal that must have thrilled Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, the state is counting on a bit of futuristic travel to get the online retailer's attention.
Specifically, the Show Me State's governor is touting Musk's Hyperloop as a way to link St. Louis and Kansas City – 250 miles distant – according to stltoday.com, which points out the technology is largely unproven.
“We actually think this is something that deserves serious consideration. It’s the kind of thing that would fit with Amazon’s bold thinking,” Drew Erdmann, the governor's chief operating officer told the news site. “We’re just challenging Amazon to think in a new way.”
The first tidbit that New Hampshire wants Amazon to know is that it is not Boston.
The heading to its proposal for HQ2 screams: "All the benefits of Boston without all the headaches." The Granite State's proposal then spells out exactly why a location in Londonderry would better suit Amazon than Boston, considered among the potential frontrunners.
New Hampshire officials described Boston as "known for congested, decaying road and overcrowded subways," according to the Boston Globe. Officials also bemoan Boston's tax burden, noting New Hampshire lacks both an income and sales tax.
"Choose Boston and next year when you leave your tiny $4,000-a-month apartment only to sit in two hours of traffic trying to make your way to an overburdened airport, you'll be wishing you were in New Hampshire," the report reads.
Calgary made sure Amazon didn't miss its message.
The Stampede City unveiled a 120-ft. by 10-ft. banner from a construction site near the retailer's Seattle headquarters, according to Business Insider. Its message: "We're not saying we'd fight a bear for you ... but we totally would."
In case Amazon somehow missed that slogan – or its cheeky humor – Calgary included it in a self-deprecating video highlighting the city's pitch.
"Hey, Amazon, rumor has it you're looking for a new place to live," says a woman delivering Calgary's pitch. "Moving can be such a bear. I know what you're thinking – Calgary, really isn't it way up north. Well, OK, sometimes it gets a bit chilly. But we've got loads of sunshine and it's a good excuse for cuddling."
Of course, she can't conclude without one more campy line.
"So, we're not saying we'd fight a bear for you," she says. "But we totally would."
Birmingham sent its formal proposal to Amazon on Thursday. But its public campaign began several weeks ago in a big way.
The Alabama city erected three giant Amazon boxes at landmarks within Magic City, encouraging residents to share their photos on social media by using the hashtag "#bringatob."
Each oversized box sat next to a sign, according to AL.com.
"Bringing Amazon to Birmingham is going to take all of us. And the message we deliver has to be big – really, really big. Help us tell Amazon why our great city is the perfect location for their next headquarters."
Considered a frontrunner in the bid to host Amazon's HQ2, the Mile High City's proposal is light on financial incentives and heavy on talent and lifestyle amenities, including 300 days of sunshine a year and 348 breweries across the state of Colorado.
“Colorado’s proposal does not lead with incentives. It leads with talent,” said Sam Bailey told the Denver Post. Representing the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., he worked with the state on the official bid. “Ultimately, 50,000 jobs shouldn’t be led with incentives but a community that has the resources to support it.”
And sunshine. (Not to mention beer.)
The Associated Press contributed to this report.