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Amazon HQ2 bid is already paying off for some cities

Birmingham, Alabama's bid for Amazon's second headquarters wasn't enough to take first place, but it did earn the cit...

Posted: Jul 31, 2018 2:10 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2018 2:10 PM

Birmingham, Alabama's bid for Amazon's second headquarters wasn't enough to take first place, but it did earn the city its first fulfillment center from the tech giant.

It's not the magnitude of HQ2, but it will create 1,500 jobs with healthcare and other benefits.

And that's a "huge win" for the city, if you ask Ford Wiles.

"A lot of cities took criticism for going after HQ2 in full force," Wiles said. He knows, because his PR firm, Big Communications, helped Birmingham put its pitch together. "This is a nice proof point that it wasn't a waste of time."

Even as Amazon considers the grand prize winner among the remaining 20 finalists, several cities already bumped from the list have landed smaller investments from the company.

"The places that stepped up clearly do get on the radar screen," said Margaret O'Mara, who teaches the political, economic and metropolitan history of the United States at the University of Washington.

Related: The genius strategy behind Amazon's HQ2 search

Beyond tapping the Birmingham suburb of Bessemer, Amazon also has in recent months announced it will bring 3,000 jobs in fields like machine learning and cloud computing to a new office in Vancouver. It will also open fulfillment centers in Spokane, Washington, and Ottawa. "A solid bid did make a difference" in catching Amazon's eye, said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

A source familiar with the HQ2 bids confirmed that the information from their proposals -- such as details about training programs and labor force -- helped these cities land these deals.

An Amazon spokesperson referred CNNMoney to a statement from Holly Sullivan of Amazon Public Policy in January: "Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation."

Amazon revealed it would build a second headquarters, called HQ2, in North America last year. It received proposals from 238 cities and regions, and narrowed those bids down to 20 metro areas in January. A decision is expected this year.

Related: How the losing Amazon HQ2 cities can still win

Although a fulfillment center "is nothing to sniff at," as O'Mara put it, Amazon has drawn criticism for what some call grueling working conditions in its fulfillment centers. O'Mara said the cities securing new fulfillment centers must work with the company to "make these better opportunities than they are."

But other experts say fulfillment centers are still a win for cities.

"There is still a substantial number of jobs attached to a fulfillment center," said Tal Gross, an economist at Boston University. "It's not a giant office building filled with executives making six figures, but it's still attractive for local governments."

This explains why Birmingham, in Rick Davis' words, "couldn't be happier" that Amazon is moving in. Sure, Davis -- the SVP of economic development at the Birmingham Business Alliance -- would have liked to see HQ2 come to town, but the fulfillment center will put a lot of people to work. That's a prize he's happy to claim.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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