Central Indiana leaders behind an effort to attract Amazon.com Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) second U.S. headquarters say they are having to squeeze three-to-six months of work into a few weeks. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Fishers Mayor Monday announced a "coordinated, unified regional effort" to attract the $5 billion project that could result in 50,000 new jobs over 20 years. The mayors say a team of tech, business and community leaders will work to develop a comprehensive proposal, which is due by October 19.
Fishers-based Ginovus Executive Managing Director Larry Gigerich is part of the group creating the proposal, and says Indiana has a lot to offer, including a "giant talent pool" coming from the state’s colleges and universities. Indy Chamber Chief Executive Officer Michael Huber says having Gigerich in the fold will allow the team to tap into the company’s vast experience with large companies, including working with Salesforce for its large Indianapolis expansion.
Organizers say, while this proposal is on the same level as bidding for the Super Bowl, and in may ways even bigger, it’s more difficult because central Indiana is competing with metro areas from throughout North America that meet the company’s requirements of at least 1 million people. Amazon’s Request for Proposals also seeks locations that have a stable and business-friendly environment, the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent and be a community that thinks "big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options."
During an event Thursday in downtown Indianapolis, Hogsett and Fadness pointed to central Indiana’s strong talent pipeline, university system, downtown and "culture of innovation." They say currently, more than 35,000 people in Marion County work in information technology, which is one of the fastest-growing industries in the sector.
University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of Finance Matt Will tells Inside INdiana Business he believes central Indiana "checks all the boxes" for Amazon. He says the region is a prime location logistically, sitting within 1,000 miles of three-quarters of the United States and Canada. He also contends "no one will compete with Indiana" on government incentives.
Will has said talent development and attraction could be the major hurdle for the area, as unemployment remains low, and some professionals prefer to live places with mountains or beaches. Gigerich says Indiana doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves as an attractive place to live and work. However, Huber says chamber data shows a high percentage of people who live and work in the region for at least two years end up staying long-term.
Amazon already has a strong presence in Indiana, with 9,000 employees at five facilities throughout the state.