There is a game-changing opportunity available for Eastern Washington and we’re not talking about it nearly enough: Amazon is looking for cities where they can build a second headquarters (HQ2). Per their announcement, Amazon said, “We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.”
Greater Spokane, Inc. (GSI) is preparing a formal proposal to respond to Amazon, and I hope they shoot for the moon! Spokane is smaller than the 1M person cities that are being targeted, so we have to put forth a big, bold presentation to match the bold, audacious thought that we are the best fit for Amazon’s HQ2. Anyone who knows the history of Gonzaga basketball knows that Spokane has a knack of exceeding the mantle of a “mid-major” city. Go get ‘em, GSI!
Local entrepreneur Tom Simpson wrote a great piece on this subject for The Inlander titled, “Dear Mr Bezos.” In this proposal, he did a very nice job of capturing many of the ways in which the Spokane area could be a great fit for Amazon. From our skilled labor force and the new talent coming from eight colleges and universities in the region, to our low cost of energy and our high quality of life, Mr. Simpson put forth a great assessment on why Eastern Washington is an amazing place to live, work and play.
There is one area missing, however, where I think we can offer something that no other region can: The Spokane Tribe. If you want to create real, tangible incentives (i.e. zero taxes!), having Amazon build in conjunction with the Spokane Tribe of Indians is the play you have to make in order to land this deal. The loss in tax revenue would be offset 100x over by the economic boom this would bring to our region. The bottom-line is that Corporations make decisions based on the bottom-line. In order to “fight above our weight” when competing with bigger cities, you have to have a financial incentive that is simply too lucrative to ignore. As much as I am rooting for GSI to nail their pitch, I would keep a close eye on whatever proposal comes out of the Spokane Tribe!
It has long been said that “Spokane is a great place to live… if you can find a job!” For our workers looking for higher wages and new opportunities, as well as our young people who we raise and educate just to see them leave for Seattle and Portland after graduation, this is a once in a lifetime chance to raise the bar in Spokane.