The Kansas City area has assembled a smart, compelling proposal designed to convince Amazon to build a second headquarters in the region.
The odds of success are still long. The competition for the $5 billion, 50,000-employee build-out has been fierce. Kansas City has much to offer, but other cities are promising plenty, clouding the outcome.
Kansas City, working through the Kansas City Area Development Council, has forgone the throw-money-at-Amazon approach. That’s good news for taxpayers. While significant incentives are a part of the area’s pitch — and are subject to negotation and political decision-making — recruiters instead decided to emphasize the quality of the workforce, as well as the possibilities of education and training, as central to the bid.
The Kauffman Foundation will play an essential role in building out Kansas City’s school-to-career pipeline, said Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the KCADC. The bid highlights Kansas City’s talent and the Amazon employees of the future.
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The region’s two-inch-thick plan was submitted to Amazon Thursday. The pitch includes an online platform, available to the company, that includes video, data, interactive maps and testimonials from other business leaders.
Kansas City leads “from the middle,” the bid says. The region is “hungry, hard-working, optimistic and humble,” local boosters explain, suggesting that choosing Kansas City would make a statement.
Building sites have been offered on both sides of the state line. The KCADC would not reveal those sites this week.
Cowden says several working groups immersed themselves in Amazon’s culture in preparing the bid. The proposal includes Amazon-friendly documents that use the same font, format and approach the online retail giant uses internally. All of this is encouraging.
City leaders acknowledge that the area has a few shortcomings. Kansas City cannot immediately build fixed-rail transit, a key Amazon request. While area colleges and universities participated in this process, the reliance on the Kauffman Foundation may suggest concerns the area lacks a Silicon Valley-like tech culture at post-secondary institutions.
That’s where the states of Missouri and Kansas come in. As we pointed out this week, ongoing cuts to education funding send exactly the wrong signal to firms such as Amazon, which need highly-educated, highly-trained employees.
Residents should applaud the bipartisan, bistate work of local leaders in putting the bid together. On Thursday, the two Kansas U.S. senators and five local members of the U.S. House wrote the company, promoting the Kansas City region. Missouri’s two U.S. senators have made similar gestures.
Gov. Eric Greitens in Missouri has asked Amazon to consider locating in Kansas City and St. Louis, with a Hyperloop high-speed link between the cities. We hope that goofy idea doesn’t harm the region’s chances.
We applaud Kansas City’s work on the Amazon project. If the effort falls short, the framework of regional cooperation and the commitment to educating and training local talent should be a template for the future.