October 6, 2017

CT selects cities to pitch locations for Amazon HQ2

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Amazon's distribution center in Windsor.

[This story has been updated.]

The state of Connecticut has chosen the Stamford and Hartford regions to represent it in its bid to land Amazon's second headquarters.

In statements released late in the day, both Stamford's and Hartford's mayors said they were eager to complete the process.

"We're looking forward to submitting a strong proposal in partnership with East Hartford, with the Greater Hartford region, and with the state of Connecticut as a whole," Bronin said via email. "The Hartford region has tremendous human capital, diverse and culturally rich communities, and an incredible location, and I think the idea of a campus uniting both sides of the Connecticut River is a powerful one. Recruiting Amazon anywhere in the state would be a huge win for all of Connecticut, and we're going to do everything we can to help make that possible."

As those plans move forward, at least one region -- Bridgeport and New Haven -- is making a go of it on its own.

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development's letter, dated Oct. 2 and obtained by the Hartford Business Journal from the city of Bridgeport, reads, in part: "After careful analysis by our review team, which included representatives from several state agencies, we have decided to move toward with two sites (in the Stamford region and the Hartford region) that we believe meet the very specific project criteria outlined in Amazon's [request for proposals] and subsequent conversations."

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith signed the letter. The other state agencies are not named.

"The Stamford and Hartford area proposals, while quite different, offer Amazon great opportunities for growth," Smith said in a statement released by the governor's office late in the day Friday. "It is important to remember that a project of this magnitude will have far-reaching, positive impacts well beyond the project site. If one of these two sites is fortunate enough to be selected, the entire state will benefit. I am grateful for the outpouring of support and ideas we have received around this initiative."

Amazon already has a significant presence in Connecticut with existing facilities in Wallingford and Windsor. This summer, the company announced plans to expand their presence in the state through the creation of a fulfillment center in North Haven, which will bring their Connecticut-based employees to approximately 3,800 workers.

The cities of Bridgeport and New Haven are still jointly pursuing an application with Amazon together as a metropolitan area, the mayors of both cities said Friday.

"The comprehensive, New Haven/Bridgeport regional bid to attract a new Amazon facility is moving forward independently – we believe it meets the current and future needs of Amazon, with exceptional access to domestic and international markets through a robust, multi-modal transportation system, with a highly qualified workforce, and with top-ranked colleges and universities to refill the talent pool," New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said via email.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim echoed that, adding that a key component is the availability of higher learning centers to produce workforce talent which the region has in abundance.

Michael Pollard, chief of staff for Stamford Mayor David Martin, added that the city would be pursuing its application fiercely.

"What we have been doing from the very onset of the search is initiating actions to determine how competitive the city would be. We put together views and inventory of items that Amazon is looking for. Our regional location puts us in proximity to talent ... the access we have is someone catching a train from New Haven or New York City coming by train here."

Smith's letter also asks those towns not selected by the state to provide details about educational and quality of life assets to contribute to the state's overall application.

In September, Amazon announced plans to open Amazon HQ2, a second company headquarters in North America to complement its headquarters in Seattle. Cities across the country are competing as Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow the site to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

Competing cities have until Oct. 19 to submit confidential applications to Amazon, according to the request for proposals on its website.

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