Steering Committee Lines Up For NW Indiana Amazon Bid

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(Image of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson courtesy of the city of Gary) (Image of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson courtesy of the city of Gary)
GARY -

A steering committee of leaders from Gary and northwest Indiana is in place for a bid to land the second Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) headquarters. The group includes the city and its economic development team, Northwest Indiana Forum, Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and consultants SEH Inc. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson last month announced the city was making a region-backed play for what the online marketplace says will lead to an estimated 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment.

Freeman-Wilson says Gary offers Amazon "the best of many worlds," citing its location, amenities and close proximity to Chicago, which is the country's third-largest economic market. "Gary boasts the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a part of the National Park Service; historic architecture; a big ten university; and affordable real estate," she says. "At the same time, northwest Indiana has the population, cultural diversity and range of communities to meet the tangible and intangible needs of Amazon as a company and as an employer. We also have an added feature. We give Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos an opportunity to grow his world class organization while playing a vital role in the transformation of a community and region."

Northwest Indiana Forum Chief Executive Officer Heather Ennis adds "I believe in Northwest Indiana - our physical assets, our people, and our business climate. When you couple these features with our proximity to Chicago, we will continue to at tract meaningful business investment." A release from the city of Gary on behalf of the steering committee says another feature in its favor is "a pro-business climate that puts the State in a class by itself." Gary Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Bo Kemp agrees, saying "we take every opportunity to explain the advantages of a Gary business address. The city is motivated to welcome new businesses and excited that so many other northwest Indiana leaders have signed on in support of this effort."

Freeman-Wilson calls it "narrow thinking" and not reality to suggest Gary couldn't be a contender. She says the bid is "much more than a 'Hail Mary' pass." The city is also encouraging people to sign a petition to express support for the project.

Gary isn't the only community in Indiana vying for what's referred to as "HQ2." The cities of Indianapolis and Fishers are leading the charge in central Indiana.

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