Chicago Among 20 Cities On Short List For Amazon’s 2nd HQ

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago has been selected as one of 20 cities that will move forward in the competition to host Amazon’s second headquarters, a project the tech giant has said will create up to 50,000 jobs.

After 238 cities across the U.S. submitted bids last year, Amazon on Thursday announced a list of 20 cities and regions that will continue in the selection process.

The list includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto, and Washington D.C.

“In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information as necessary, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate our hiring plans as well as benefit our employees and the local community. We expect to make a decision in 2018,” Amazon said in a statement on its website.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said Chicago is prepared to compete at the remaining levels of the process to lure Amazon’s HQ2.

“Today’s news makes clear that Amazon recognizes Chicago’s great strengths – access to talent, transportation, higher education, affordability and quality of life, which are the keys to growth and prosperity,” the mayor said in a prepared statement. “As companies including GE Healthcare, ConAgra and McDonalds have concluded, Chicago offers unparalleled opportunities, and we are going to continue to work as a region to make the case to Amazon that Chicago is the ideal location for HQ2.”

Chicago and the state of Illinois proposed 10 sites for Amazon:

• A “City Center Campus,” which would redevelop the state’s James R. Thompson Center in the Loop;
• a “Downtown Gateway District,” which would include space in the Willis Tower, the Old Chicago Main Post Office, and a redeveloped Union Station;
• “Lincoln Yards,” a stretch of riverfront property in Bucktown and Lincoln Park, including the old Finkl steel stie;
• “The River District,” a 37-acre stretch of riverfront land at Halsted Street’
• Fulton Market District property;
• redevelopment within the Illinois Medical District;
• “The 78,” a 62-acre site in the South Loop along the Chicago River;
• “Burnham Lakefront,” the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital, just west of Lake Shore Drive near 31st Street Beach and Marina;
• the soon-to-be vacant McDonald’s headquarters campus in Oak Brook;
• and more than 260 acres available for redevelopment in Schaumburg, on the former site of the Motorola headquarters campus.

Incentives offered by the Emanuel administration and the Rauner administration reportedly include $1.3 billion in state EDGE tax credits, $450 million in state and city funding for infrastructure improvements, $250 to help train a workforce, $170 million in sales tax and utility tax exemptions, $61 million in property tax discounts.

On Wednesday, Emanuel was discussing reasons why he thinks Chicago would make any list of top cities for corporate expansion or relocation – and that includes the well-educated work force and transportation.

“We are not just the busiest, we are the best connected airport. We have a 95 percent on time, 96 public transportation system – New York is 75 percent. People, their employees want to live in neighborhoods that they can also afford to send their kids,” Emanuel said.

“More universities than any other city but Boston; 250-mile radius, 200-mile radius, more level one universities than any other city. We graduate 150,000 people with a bachelor’s degree consistently,” he added. “Of the five biggest cities in the United States, we now lead with more people with a college degree.”

The city made those points and more in its bid for Amazon’s HQ2.

The Seattle-based tech company has said it plans to spend $5 billion on its second headquarters, which would employ about 50,000 people, with an average compensation of more than $100,000.

City and state officials have said luring Amazon could bring in far more than the 50,000 jobs the company itself would create, including jobs in construction and support services. Gov. Bruce Rauner has estimated up to 140,000 new jobs should Amazon choose the Chicago bid.

Amazon said it will make a final decision sometime this year.

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