KC Makes Its Pitch to Amazon




As of today, the Kansas City region’s dreams of being home to a second headquarters for Amazon.com are in the hands of Jeff Bezos and his team in Seattle.

In what is being described as the largest regional collaboration in its history, the Kansas City Area Development Council delivered this market’s response to Amazon’s request for proposals, issued in September. In addition to two governors’ offices, mayors of large cities in this market and officials from 18 counties, outside economic-development authorities joined in a full-court promotional press touting the benefits of this region for what the on-line retailing behemoth has dubbed HQ2.

Long on accolades, the news of Kansas City’s pitch was short on one thing: Details. “Given the highly competitive nature of the site-location process and Amazon’s required Non-Disclosure Agreement, no additional details of the KC region’s proposal will be available to the public,” read the footnote of a news release issued by the KCADC this morning.

The public, then, won’t know what kinds of incentives might have been included in the proposal. Presumably, neither will residents of dozens of other cities that have delivered proposals of their own within the past 24 hours. In this region’s case, that pitch included input from more than  200 private-sector leaders, the KCADC said, and they offered “crucial input, lent their expertise and contributed significant value throughout the process.”

A great deal is at stake for the winner of this sweepstakes, but there’s no legal requirement that Amazon follow through and actually calve off an administrative clone of its Seattle base; it could review the proposals and determine that it’s best course is to stay put. But the company has indicated it’s willing to sink $5 billion into development of a new co-headquarters, and has said that such a site could produce a staggering 50,000 jobs.

With Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer extolling the attributes that make this region a formidable logistics center and prime location for expansion, mayors of key suburban city and county governments echoed the cheers of Mayors Sly James and Mark Holland of the two Kansas Citys. The KCADC also secured input from outsiders with respected voices: Joel Kotkin, an authority on global, economic, political and social trends, and urbanist Richard Florida also touted this region’s strengths.

“A collaborative effort of this magnitude is only possible with an immense level of trust. It is a core value of Amazon’s, and of the KC region,” said Jon Cook, Global CEO for Kansas City’s VML, which developed the interactive digital platform for the region’s HQ2 proposal.

Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the KCADC, thanked those involved and said that the “project has proven we have the ability to come together and tell a comprehensive KC story that sets our region apart from all others across North America.”

Now, it’s up to Amazon to see if that view holds up from the outside.