Philly will enter national bid process to house Amazon’s new HQ

Mayors of several cities have also raised their hands for HQ2. But not everyone is happy about Amazon's brazen play for public subsidies.

Amazon's HQ in Seattle.

(Courtesy photo)

Amazon is looking for a city to set up a massive new $5-billion, 50,000-employee campus, and Philly’s joining the race.

“Philadelphia will be submitting a proposal and given their preference for a city with over 1,000,000 people, Philadelphia would provide them with a perfectly located East Coast hub where they have access to a rapidly growing millennial talent pool,” the city’s Department of Commerce said in a statement Thursday. “We’re also much more affordable than other nearby East Coast cities with similar population sizes.”

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney whipped out the dad jokes on Twitter to confirm that Philly will be entering the competitive process:

First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, who had earlier offered Kenney his help in the effort, doubled down with a puntastic response:


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s team is also on the case.

“We are aware of the proposal from Amazon and are exploring how we can showcase Pennsylvania’s world class cities as potential homes for Amazon’s growth,” said spokesman J.J. Abbott. “Some of our economic development team had a call already this morning when the news came out.”


Kenney and Wolf join a chorus of local leaders publicly pulling for Amazon to drop down in their cities. So far, the mayors of Tulsa, Memphis and St. Louis have explicitly said their towns would submit a proposal.

The report out of Chicago is that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had already been in talks with CEO Jeff Bezos about setting up HQ2 in Chicago. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s negotiation tactics, this report may be truly relevant.

As the Seattle ecommerce giant scouts out possible towns, it already has a shopping list of what it wants. Here are some of the condition cities should meet, per the official Request for Proposal:

  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options

The site will be announced in 2018 after a review of all submissions, in a process that’s been dubbed on social media “Amazon Idol.”

Philly Twitter was aflutter with the news with a wide range of reactions.

There’s the carefully optimistic Mikey Ilagan:

Of  course the perennially excited Waterfront Lab account said, Come to Camden:

PACT’s Danielle Pinto gave a shout to the existing local tech community:

WHYY transportation reporter Jim Saksa said no way:

Though most cities are super excited about the possibility of a massive corporate site among them, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (with offices in Minneapolis, Portland and D.C.) sounded every siren in a fiery press release about the company’s HQ site search.

“Amazon’s announcement that it’s opening a search for a second North American headquarters is only the latest play in Amazon’s long-time strategy of financing its growth through public subsidies,” said Stacy Mitchell, the Institute’s co-director. “In response to Amazon’s HQ2 RFP, public officials would do well to invest in smart economic development for their communities instead of engaging in Amazon’s arms race.”

Companies: Amazon
People: James Kenney
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