HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut submitted two bids to Amazon Thursday in hopes of landing the company’s coveted second headquarter location, which comes with the promise of 50,000 jobs.
Today was the deadline cities, towns and states across America had to submit their bids to the online retailer.
The first bid Connecticut submitted was from Stamford, which was described as a city with “corporate parks surrounded by lush green forests, luxury office buildings overlooking the picturesque Long Island Sound and expansive, convenient offices.”
Stamford Mayor David Martin said Thursday he believes that like so many businesses that “Amazon will discover Stamford is the place to be.”
The second bid was from the Greater Hartford region. Hartford, at just 18 square miles, joined forces with its neighbors to the east, west, and north to sell Amazon on the idea of coming to the region, which the Brookings Institution named as one of 19 “Knowledge Capitals” worldwide.
In their bid to the company, the Hartford region touted its labor force and cost of living, which they say is 15 to 50 percent below other northeast cities.
The architectural sketch of what Amazon might look like on the banks of the Connecticut River included a ferris wheel.
The mayors of East Hartford, West Hartford, and the town manager from Windsor joined Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin Thursday in touting the bid at a state Capitol press conference.
Amazon is looking for 8 million square feet of office space over the next 15 years, according the to request for proposals it released a few months ago.
Seventeen communities submitted their bid to the state for consideration. The state whittled that down and decided to combine the East Hartford and Hartford bid and accept the Stamford bid as one they would support with state incentives.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said their selection of the two bids represent, “vibrant urban centers, nestled amongst progressive leaning towns and convenient access to Boston or New York.”
He said he believes Amazon embodies many of the same values as Connecticut.
“They say you’re known by the company you keep and Amazon would be joining great companies that call Connecticut home,” Malloy said.
DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said that there’s nothing stopping a town from submitting a proposal directly to Amazon, however, she warned that the state won’t back it with incentives.
“We’re not going to support something unless we think it could win,” Smith said.
Smith said over the next 20 to 25 years they would see a $5 billion increase in state GDP if Amazon chose one of the two metro regions for its headquarters.
“This is worth making a fight for,” Smith said.
Bronin said it’s not about pitting Hartford against Stamford because landing Amazon anywhere in Connecticut would be a win for the state.
Earlier this month , Malloy proclaimed that thousands of jobs were on the line if legislators didn’t end the budget stalemate. He said discussions with businesses looking to expand or relocate to the state were on hold until a budget deal could be reached.
Asked about the lack of a state budget, Malloy said “look, anyone who land 50,000 jobs is going to be pretty well situated.”
But there’s little doubt that it’s a long shot for a state that’s competing with big cities like Boston, New York, and Minneapolis.
Malloy said Amazon already has a footprint in the state with 4,200 employees in Connecticut at distribution centers in Windsor and Wallingford. Another one is expected to open next year in North Haven.
“I think bodes well at least for our consideration,” Malloy said.
He said they also commit to a “single property tax rate” for a very long period of time as part of the proposal.
However, Malloy and Smith declined to relieve any more about what was in the incentive package.
In addition to asking for an incentive package, Amazon is looking for access to human capital — which is a terms for the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population — and is requesting information about quality of life for its employees.
The RFP asks for everything from traffic congestion rankings to information about “daily living, recreational opportunities, diversity of housing options, availability of housing near potential sites for HQ2, and pricing, among other information. Please also include relevant crime data and cost of living data.”