By Aubrey Byron, News Editor
Amazon has been accepting bids for their second headquarters (HQ2) plans. The online retailer giant plans to open a second headquarters somewhere in North America and is letting cities bid for the opportunity to host the expansion. St. Louis and Kansas City have put together their own proposals, but Missouri Governor Eric Greitens pitched a third concept—to utilize the entire I-70 corridor in the state of Missouri.
The corridor is the highway system which connects Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis. The details of the proposal have been made public and do not favor one major Missouri city over the other but pushes for a statewide initiative. The twelve page proposal contains everything from statistics on college graduates to touting the award for “Best Ice Cream” referring to the well-loved Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis.
The state bid also included a Hyperloop One proposal. Hyperloop One is a new mode of transportation developed by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. The Hyperloop plans to travel up to 700 miles per hour above land or underground via a system of tubes. Air inside the tubes will be removed so the electromagnetic rotor can move at incredible speeds with minimal energy.
Missouri did not win the “Hyperloop One Challenge” which will explore its new technology through ten routes selected around the world. Winning corridors included Orlando to Miami, Florida, as well as Edinburgh, Scotland to London, England in the United Kingdom. However, private funds are paying for a feasibility study of the technology. According to developers, they believe a route could allow riders to travel the 240 mile distance between Kansas City and St. Louis in as little as 28 minutes.
The new high speed technology is a key component of how Amazon might “unleash the combined strength of the entire State of Missouri” in Greitens’ proposal. Since the proposal launch was intended for cities, it seems unlikely the regional proposition will be a serious contender for the bid. However it did highlight the key reasons one Missouri city could be attractive.
Being centrally located, Missouri is in an ideal location for nationwide shipping. Most of the continental United States is within a day’s drive. It also has some of the lowest cost of living in the country, 6th lowest in the nation to be exact. Missouri has successfully courted major corporations in the past, such as Express Scripts and Boeing.
Austin, Denver, and Raleigh/Durham are among other major contenders across the nation, along with several others. Publications have begun to speculate winners, with New York Times predicting Denver to be the most likely. Other predictions pointed to Washington D.C. because of the opportunity for lobbying.
There have been no shortage in odd tactics during the race to recruit. Tucson, Arizona sent Amazon a cactus, according to the company’s Twitter page. Amazon claimed they “unfortunately can’t accept gifts” and donated it to the Desert Museum instead. Kansas City Mayor Sly James ordered 1,000 amazon products and reviewed all of them with five stars and included reasons to move to Kansas City in each review. One town in Georgia near Atlanta even offered to change its name to Amazon, according to local media source.
It is unlikely gimmicks will play any role in the company’s choice. Location, housing, cost and importantly tax incentives will be logical factors to consider. The winner of the bidding war by the company will be decided on sometime next year with a promise of $5 billion in investment and at least 50,000 jobs, according to Amazon.
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi said, “This is an outstanding proposal, and we’re very excited to be a part of the state of Missouri’s proposal to create an innovation corridor from St. Louis to Kansas City by way of Columbia that benefits the entire state of Missouri. Attracting Amazon to the state of Missouri at this time in our history will transform our economic, housing, health, communication and transportation infrastructure, leading to more innovations and high paying job growth in the Show Me State. Our campuses are dedicated to preparing future leaders who can meet Amazon’s unique workforce needs. We join Gov. Eric Greitens in support of this innovative proposal to secure Amazon’s new headquarters.”