- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There are so many giveaways and takeaways being bandied about in the battle for Amazon’s HQ2, some of the highly competitive bidding wars are almost laughable.

Amazon said it wants 500,000 square feet of space for its new complex and a future build-out capacity of 8 million square feet. Its other minimalist requirements are transportation/traffic infrastructure to accommodate a projected workforce of 50,000, a major international airport and an educated workforce capable of filling those 50,000 new jobs.

Cities and counties throughout the United States and Canada are making a pitch, including some obvious sites such as Toronto, Baltimore and Prince George’s County — and some not-so-obvious.

For instance, lawmakers in Stonecrest, Georgia, a suburb northeast of Atlanta, voted to annex 345 acres and dub the plot “Amazon” if the Seattle-based e-commerce company builds its headquarters there.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James expressed his brand loyalty by buying 1,000 items via Amazon. For good measure, he’s donating the items to charity — though don’t be surprised if he keeps the organic jackfruit for his own Kansas City BBQ.

D.C., Virginia and Maryland weren’t quite as creative as Stonecrest and Kansas City, but they were indeed quixotic.

Virginia, for example, has kissed three sites in the Richmond area and one in Northern Virginia — Herndon, which seemingly is ripe for blessings from Amazon. Herndon:

Has an educated workforce, and Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School has long been an academic magnet.

Is already home to the Dulles Technology Corridor, which includes AOL, XO Communications, Verizon Business and Network Solutions.

Is near Washington Dulles International Airport.

Is not only in Northern Virginia but is also part of the larger D.C. metro area.

Is served by commuter rail.

What’s more, Virginia is a right-to-work state, and Herndon and Fairfax already have several Whole Foods delivery and brick-and-mortar options.

Like Virginia, D.C. suggested several sites, including the Capitol Hill East area, where Amazon could become neighbors with a jail, a homeless shelter, a rundown stadium, a historic graveyard and detox facilities. All of those sites are in the vicinity of the storied Pennsylvania Avenue along the Anacostia River.

Other D.C. sites are pretty much in sync with Metrorail stations Union Station and Shaw-Howard University.

To its credit, the nation’s capital is in close proximity to all three major airports in the region.

In that regard, however, Baltimore city and Howard and Prince George’s counties beat D.C. on the Baltimore Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport chit.

For its part, Prince George’s certainly has several undeveloped areas that could easily meet Amazon’s current and future needs. Yet, as Gov. Larry Hogan pointed out, the Port Covington site in South Baltimore is practically shovel-ready, and financing, including public options, is already on the table.

Amazon said it would like to plop its new headquarters in North America, and you needn’t be a big-money “Jeopardy” winner to know that includes more than the United States and Canada.

Amazon has sites around the globe, and it is expected that the HQ2 North American site won’t be located in, say, Bermuda or Puerto Rico for, well, practical reasons.

And honestly, Amazon bigwigs already may have picked their top three choices and are merely waiting to look at formal proposals.

The deadline for submissions is Oct. 19, and Amazon is expected to announce its decision a month later.

Snagging Amazon and 50,000 jobs would certainly be a political coup.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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