Indianapolis, Fishers mayors spearhead effort to attract Amazon HQ2

Central Indiana leaders, led by Indianapolis and Fishers, say they hope to “surprise a lot of people" and "turn some heads” in putting together a strong proposal to try to convince Amazon executives to locate its second U.S. headquarters here.

That was the phrasing used by Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness as he spoke with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett Monday afternoon to announce the cities have launched and will lead a “coordinated, unified regional effort to engage Amazon" and work together on responding to the company's request for proposals.

Amazon’s announcement last week that its future second headquarters will create 50,000 new jobs with an average annual compensation of $100,000 each have cities across the country clamoring to submit bids. But there’s a short timetable, with proposals due Oct. 19.

Hogsett said landing the project would be transformational and that local officials “have spent our weekend talking about how we owe it to central Indiana” to pursue it.

“Central Indiana has so much to offer Amazon,” Hogsett said.

He was bullish on the area’s potential to land the opportunity, despite the fact that Indianapolis has largely been left out of the speculative lists and pundit chatter that has already surfaced about contenders for the deal.

“The truth is, if those who went before us had listened to the pundits, Indianapolis wouldn’t have hosted the Pan American games,” Hogsett said. “Indianapolis wouldn’t have hosted a Super Bowl. We have a tradition, a history of regardless of what the odds are, we have successfully overcome them. It is in that spirit, with that sense of confidence, we approach this process.”

However, officials were slim on details about how much in incentives the state and cities could offer Amazon and what potential sites were being proposed. Hogsett and Fishers said it was too soon to know.

“We’re way too early to speculate on any kind of dollar number,” Fadness said.

Hogsett said the cities would be collaborating with Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp. to put together an incentive package, although officials from the state did not participate in the joint announcement. Larry Gigerich, executive managing director of Indianapolis site selection firm Ginovus, said he'll also be working with the cities to put together a proposal.

“If we went it alone, we couldn’t do it,” Hogsett. “But if we collaborate, work very closely with our state partners and Gov. Holcomb, I think our chances are very competitive.”

Boone County officials added their support later on Monday.

“We look forward to working with our partners in the Indy region to leverage the best our area has to offer in an effort to attract Amazon to locate their headquarters here," said Molly Whitehead, executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Corp. "We are confident in our ability to compete with any region across the country based on our business-friendly environment, talented workforce and quality of life.”

Amazon already has a fulfillment center located in Whitestown, one of four in central Indiana. In fact, Amazon is Indiana's 15th largest employer, according to IBJ research, with more than 9,000 full-time workers in the state.

Hogsett said Indianapolis has some sites that would work for Amazon throughout the city, and that “one need look no further than the river and some properties over there” as well as the East Market Street corridor.

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