October 12, 2017 07:01 PM
A bold move to try to get Amazon to build its new world headquarters in western New York: Instead of submitting their own proposals, Rochester and Buffalo are teaming up to make a regional pitch.
In September, Amazon created a North American competition by encouraging cities to apply to be the new home of its second headquarters. Amazon said it would be a $5 billion investment and promised up to 50,000 jobs. The prospective cities have to meet certain requirements.
News10NBC has created a hashtag to encourage Amazon to come to Rochester. Click here to tweet Amazon about #RocAmazon
News10NBC chief investigative reporter Berkeley Brean talked with Matt Hurlbutt, the CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise. He the man who helped come up with the idea.
Brean: "Let's say for instance that (Amazon CEO) Jeff Bezos was sitting here and you had time to tell him one reason why Amazon should come here. What would you tell him?"
Matt Hurlbutt, CEO Greater Rochester Enterprise: "We've got great tech talent at a very competitive rate. And an eco-system that can support not just the physical assets they need but the entrepreneurial assets in the way they run their company. And that's why they should be here."
Brean: "Is that going to sell him though? I mean there's got to be an emotional component to this."
Matt Hurlbutt: "Yeah, well I think the other piece in this, and it's a conversation that we've had with officials at Amazon, is the opportunity to transform an area in a unique way."
Brean: "We've talked about that. If they went to Boston or Atlanta or D.C. it would be big but it would be a drop in the bucket. If they came here it sort of changes the world."
Matt Hurlbutt: "Yeah, it's very unique."
Greater Rochester Enterprise and its partner, Invest Buffalo Niagara, started talking about a Buffalo-Rochester team two days after Amazon issued the challenge to pick a second headquarters. The proposal makes Rochester-Buffalo a high-tech corridor. It highlights things like that there are more than 2 million people between the two cities and includes details like RIT's packaging science program which has graduates working at Amazon.
It's going to try to convince Amazon that this is a good place for their employees to live.
Bob Duffy is the head of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
"People can talk about taxes and what have you," Duffy said. "You compare Rochester, New York to Seattle, Boston, New York City, we rock when it comes to prices for housing, investment, cost of living, transportation."
Matt Hurlbutt: "There are probably going to be over 100 proposals going into Amazon so we want to make sure that we not only get ready but we're in the finals."
Brean: "My hunch is that of those 100 proposals, a lot of them are going to say the same things you just said. So what makes us different?"
Matt Hurlbutt: "We can prove it."
Brean: "How is this going to work? What would Buffalo get and what would we get?"
Matt Hurlbutt: "Well that's really up to Amazon. So what we've talked about is really a high tech corridor."
Brean: "I wonder if you did this because you realized that Rochester in and of itself and Buffalo in and of itself couldn't compete with Boston or Atlanta or Denver. But together there might be a shot."
Matt Hurlbutt: "Well there's a certain reality to that. The metropolitan areas together are more than 2.2 million people so that helps us on the workforce side. And it also eliminates that fact that we were going to be competing with Buffalo."
Vinnie Esposito runs Empire State Development for Rochester and the Finger Lakes.
"Oh, there's no doubt all of us in Rochester would rather Amazon be (in Rochester) and believe we have a story to be told that would make a case for them to come here," Esposito said. "But we think together with Buffalo we have a stronger case to be made."
Brean: "If you walk down the street and you said we're going to try to get Amazon I think a lot of people would sort of say, 'Not going to happen.' Right? 'It's a long shot.' How do you answer that sort of mind set?"
Matt Hurlbutt: "Well it's actually come up before today. I encourage people to be positive. There are reasons why companies are here doing business already and in some cases we're our own, we're our own.."
Brean: "Worst enemy."
Matt Hurlbutt: "Yes, in the sense that we need to be more positive."
The deadline to submit the proposal is October 19.
Updated: October 12, 2017 07:01 PM
Created: October 12, 2017 06:46 PM
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