Amazon, Kansas City is your sweet spot.
Get ready to hear from us because our region should be a top contender for Amazon’s planned second headquarters. KC, in fact, is perfect for “HQ2.”
The race is already on to woo Amazon, and in early predictions, experts and prognosticators have consistently included Kansas City among their projected contenders. One industry insider identified Kansas City has his top pick, proclaiming our area “possibly the nation’s most underrated tech hub.”
Can we hear an amen?
But with as many as 50,000 jobs with average compensation above $100,000 up for grabs, the competition will be fierce. To win this bid, civic and political leaders from across the region will need to join forces and tap into the best the area has to offer on both sides of the state line.
Now is the time to erase the Missouri-Kansas divide and set aside the turf battles that sometimes trip us up.
The fact that Kansas City was swiftly all-in for this nationwide competition has us off to a good start.
Within hours of Amazon’s announcement, Kansas City Mayor Sly James tweeted that he had already instructed the city manager and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City to gather up a team and respond with a proposal, emphasizing that “#KansasCity will compete!”
The Kansas City Area Development Council also quickly sprang into action, calling for a regional response and highlighting steps they had taken to organize.
Amazon will find a lot to like here in a city with a low cost of living, an educated workforce and an entrepreneurial spirit. The Kansas City area encompasses nearly 8,000 square miles. There’s plenty of land here, so real estate is affordable, especially compared to Seattle, which is home to Amazon’s existing headquarters. And finding a spot that can accommodate a large corporate campus should not be a challenge.
Our location — legitimately the middle of the map — will also serve Amazon’s needs. Add in our well-developed transportation infrastructure, including intersecting interstates and rail lines, and Amazon will be well positioned to move its people and its products in and out of Kansas City.
The wide range of educational institutions within the four-state region should also be a selling point as Amazon looks for a skilled labor force. Many freshly minted college graduates see Kansas City as their first stop. Our affordability and willingness to welcome newcomers often convince them to stay for the long-term.
We should note that Amazon pointed to the need for an international airport in the winning city. Kansas City has one, albeit an aging airport that is not particularly appealing to business travelers. But please note, Amazon, we’re working on it. Voters have a chance to approve a new terminal in November.
Google’s choice of the area for its broadband fiber expansion highlighted how we could quickly innovate to make the most of an opportunity. No doubt the region would do the same and more for Amazon.
Give us a shot, Amazon. Kansas City might surprise you.