Economic development practitioners have never been as hard at work as they were in the Fall of 2017 when Amazon announced its search for a second corporate headquarters in North America. Imagine – all of us in the biz – working at a steady (but urgent) pace to build relationships with real estate brokers, servicing existing industries, creating new ways to respond to traditional RFP’s, cutting ribbons on new announcements, answering phone calls, and expecting a somewhat usual routine to the week.
When, all of a sudden, in your email in-box is an invitation from the world’s fastest growing company inviting you to submit your best real estate assets, your most viable talent attraction programs, your most creative and competitive incentive packages, and your most entertaining and diverse assets so that they can put 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion (yes, BILLION with a ‘B’) of new investment in your region. This is no small project and it was no longer a “business as usual” day in the office.
The RFP called for a regional response with an abundance of real estate, amenities and talent. Together, our 15-county regional partnership had to deliver something beyond anything any one of us could do on our own. This project was going to take more brain power and more resources than usual, and it was a wake-up call for our entire region.