CHICAGO (CBS) — A pivotal turning point is ahead in Chicago’s fight to land Amazon’s second headquarters, which could result in a big boost for the city’s employment future.
Amazon selecting Chicago as the location for its second corporate headquarters could bring the city as many as 50,000 jobs — that’s enough to fill every seat in Wrigley Field and put 8,000 more on the field.
To put that into further perspective: That’s five times more than Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Exelon, and United Airlines combined, which happen to be the four largest companies headquartered in Chicago.
Tuesday, leaders from both the city and the state are heading to Seattle to begin their push for the online retailing giant.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who just returned from his first Asian trip to reel in new business, acknowledges that Amazon is now the big fish. With that said, that’s a catch he can only lure by cooperating with his political sparring partner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“We’ve got a city-state joint group going to Seattle tomorrow to meet with the leaders of Amazon,” Rauner said.
Deputy Gov. Leslie Munger will be Rauner’s point person, while Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin will lead Emanuel’s team.
“It’s essential that we work together as a partnership. Amazon wants a single, comprehensive proposal,” Rauner said.
According to the governor, Amazon is only seeking bids from major urban areas with major international airports.
“That leaves a limited number of geographic areas that have access to global markets, transportation, and software talent,” State Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) said. “That puts us in a position of competing against one or two other cities.”
Potential locations include the old Michael Reese Hospital site, Finkl Steel’s previous site, the Thompson Center, and a plot south of Roosevelt along the Chicago River.
“We have been our own worst enemy with our polices, with our regulations, and our taxes,” Rauner said.
Now, the same governor who’s spent years recounting Illinois’ shortcomings must become the state’s super salesman.
“We have a great workforce, we have great people — the best people in America,” he said.
The delegation heading to Seattle will visit Amazon’s offices, but they won’t be meeting with its executives. Instead, they will be taking a look at Amazon’s current headquarters to get a better idea of which Chicago site might best fit their needs.