Despite a lack of support from the state, New Haven and Bridgeport are moving ahead with a joint proposal to host Amazon’s second company headquarters.
After Amazon opened a search across North America for the home of its second headquarters over a month ago, Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development hosted its own bidding competition to identify the most viable sites for a headquarters in the state. The state received 17 proposals from cities across the state, and on Friday, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced in a press release that the state had selected Hartford and Stamford as the locations it will submit to Amazon. But New Haven leaders were not discouraged.
“The mayors [Toni Harp and Joseph Ganim] are going forward with their bid,” mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer said.
According to Grotheer, city leaders still believe the region offers what Amazon is looking for. Grotheer said both cities have deep-water ports and first-rate rail connections and sit on a major highway interchange. The region has a “transportation hub unlike that in any other part of the state,” he said. Under the cities’ proposal to the state, the Amazon headquarters would be spread across the greater Bridgeport-New Haven area.
In addition, the region is home to distinguished universities, has a sizable available workforce and can offer 21 million square feet of building space, far more than Amazon needs, Grotheer said.
In a press release on September 7, Amazon said it expects to invest $5 billion in construction and to grow the new headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.
Matthew Nemerson, the chief of economic development in New Haven, said these numbers are unprecedented for a single development project. No city really knows how a situation like this works, he told the News.
“There are no rules here,” he said.
Nemerson said that one of the greatest rewards from the process so far has been New Haven’s collaboration with Bridgeport. Even outside the Amazon project, he said, cities in Connecticut should work together.
Even if Amazon chooses another region of Connecticut, such as Stamford or Hartford, Nemerson said New Haven would see positive economic effects.
“If Amazon picks us, we’ll all work together; and if they pick Hartford, that would be amazing,” he told the News.
Catherine Smith, the DECD commissioner, echoed this sentiment in a press release last Friday. “It is important to remember that a project of this magnitude will have far-reaching, positive impacts well beyond the project site,” she said.
Nemerson praised Amazon’s innovation and financial success. He called Amazon a “really smart company” and said that by encouraging cities continent-wide to submit proposals, the company has engaged in “the greatest analysis of buildable spaces in the country’s history.”
With Amazon’s selection process coming to an end in the next few weeks, Nemerson said he is excited to see how things play out.
“We know that we have a low probability, but we’re having a good time,” he said. And despite the odds, he said, “We’re doing this to win.”
Max Graham | firstname.lastname@example.org