Indianapolis is one of the 20 cities chosen to move forward in the bidding process to become the location of Amazon’s second headquarters. The tech giant pledges to bring 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion in investment to the city it ultimately selects.
Indianapolis submitted a joint bid with suburb Fishers. Their bid made the cut among 238 total proposals from cities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Amazon wants to be able to develop as much as an 8 million square foot headquarters in a North American city with a metro population of at least a million, a trained workforce and myriad other amenities.
Indianapolis meets the basic criteria – it has a metro population of nearly 2 million people, and a handful of sites that fit Amazon’s goals.
“Getting this far is not why we’re in it. We’re in it to win it.”
The company wants half a million square feet in existing buildings and 100 acres of greenfield space to start with, plus room to grow and quick access to a major airport and highways.
Steve Brunson works for McGuire Sponsel, an Indianapolis consulting firm. Brunson says ranking in the top 20 is a victory in and of itself, and says low business taxes and a culture of community help the city stand out.
But he says its biggest hurdle will be providing the necessary workforce.
“We don’t have as many people to pull from as a lot of those other cities,” Brunson says. “So when Amazon’s looking at this from that perspective, it’s looking back to that culture of community – can they get people to move here?”
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma says legislative action might be needed to create incentives for Amazon, and mentioned working with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to make it happen.
“We’ll work closely with the administration on that, be sure that the IEDC and the governor have all the tools they need to make Indiana as attractive in this regard as possible, without hopefully giving away the store,” he says.”
Bosma also says it’s possible the deal could be too burdensome on taxpayers to earn his support.
“We don’t have as many people to pull from as a lot of those other cities … can they get people to move here?”
“Today’s short list from Amazon makes clear that no matter what the final decision may be, Indianapolis is already a big winner,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett in a statement. “Every day we are gaining more recognition as a growing tech hub, and I am proud that Central Indiana’s unique combination of connectivity, quality of life, and affordable living has once again put us on the global stage.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb says he looks forward to working with Amazon as the company continues to narrow the list of potential sites.
“We are one of the fastest going tech states in the country, and so I’m not surprised that we’re competing with Boston or Austin or Los Angeles or New York,” Holcomb says. “We belong there. And like I said, getting this far is not why we’re in it. We’re in it to win it.”
Some experts say the Indiana capital is a long-shot. Some nearby cities that made the cut are Columbus, Ohio, Chicago and Nashville, Tennessee. Several other Indiana cities also submitted bids for the headquarters.
According to an Amazon statement, the company will more thoroughly evaluate each proposal in the coming months. The final decision is expected by the end of the year.
This post has been updated.