Triad cities will make joint bid for Amazon headquarters

If you don’t take a shot, you won’t hit the target. That’s the approach the Triad is taking, as Greensboro High Point and Winston-Salem work on it’s bid for Amazon’s new headquarters.

"Why wouldn't you? Amazon is one of the largest and most exciting companies in the world,” said Winston-Salem Business Inc. President Bob Leak. "A ripple effect will be felt you know 100 miles from wherever it locates."

The tech giant made an announcement to open an equal second headquarters to its Seattle hub early September. Now every major city in the country wants a piece.

"We share the same assets, the same population, the same workforce, so it made good sense working together,” said Loren Hill, with High Point’s Economic Development Corporation.

Hill along with Leak and Brent Christensen, with the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, met Monday to start planning logistics for the pitch. Amazon is looking for cities with more than one million people, and while none of the Triad cities meet that requirement individually, Leak says the combined metropolitan statistical area of the three cities is about 1.5 million people.

Leak says location makes it an attractive option too.

"Close to two major international airports with Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, as well as the ease of flying out of Piedmont Triad International,” Leak said.

A 45-minute drive to an international airport is one of Amazon’s requirements. Transportation is another priority and the group believes the Triad’s unique highway system makes it an interesting candidate.

"The employees over at Amazon could live on a farm 20 minutes outside of town and be downtown in 15 or 20 minutes,” Leak said.

The tech giant wants to invest $5 billion in its “HQ2,” bringing in as many as 50,000 high paying jobs. And while the Triad doesn’t have the biggest population compared to major cities, the group believes the affordability and potential for growth make it a compelling option.

"These kinds of jobs at this kind of company would encourage people to move here from other locations,” Hill said. "So it's not just a matter of the workforce here today, it's others that would join us."

Ultimately the hope is the Triad will stand out compared to a congested city.

"If you do something innovative, point out something they may not already know, it's gonna get someone's attention,” Hill said.

Amazon has set a mid-October deadline for proposals. The Triad team is looking at four to five sites, including the Greensboro-Randolph mega site. Amazon will announce which city or area gets the bid in 2018.