20th Century Site Selection Won't Fly with Amazon

Friday, October 20, 2017

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The Amazon HQ2 RFP is the latest opportunity for all of us to declare our assets and court the attention of one of the world’s biggest and most successful 21st century disruptors. Let the games begin!

But let’s also look at how we are all approaching this opportunity while we are at it.

I am fascinated by how many site selectors, economic development marketers and the financial sector have applied 20th century site selection criteria to a 21st century company like Amazon – a company that specializes in continually re-inventing the definition of disruptor.  Amazon doesn’t just think outside the box. At Amazon, they create new boxes!

So, why would those of us in economic development apply the standard rules of site selection criteria and choice to Amazon? I’m betting that traditional 20th century site selection criteria won’t fly with Amazon.

I’m betting that Amazon’s smarter-than-average leadership will pave a new pathway – one that reflects their culture, their global reputation and their impact on global economies. I think they will value their public reputation and the loyalty of their customers so much that they will refuse to accept millions, if not billions of dollars, in tax payer subsidies. They understand better than most that such subsidies are almost always at the expense of critical services or infrastructure – the very infrastructure they need to sustain their workforce, supply chain and logistics now and into the future. They know that the next generations who will buy their goods, help them innovate and work for them, expect a more sustainable and organic decision-making process.

I’m betting that Amazon HQ2 will look at Irvine, California because unusually and uniquely, we are proposing a powerful alternative to public subsidies. We are proposing a “one-click” solution with all the assets and amenities in place and ready to go. We were master-planned to be an economic powerhouse. We understand what drives an innovative company. And we understand that the old rules don’t fly anymore.

In the 21st century, site selections will be based on a more nuanced mix of tangibles and intangibles than in the past where tax incentives and low wages ruled the day. New criteria will prevail - culture, quality of life, school districts, colleges and universities, talent attraction and retention, research and development, logistics, reputation, desirable living options, climate, and proximity to shopping, dining, and recreation.

We have all that and more, at no additional tax payer expense. Check us out at oneclickHQ2.com.

Linda DiMario is executive vice president of the Greater Irvine Chamber, Economic Development and Destination Irvine.

Category: Chamber News, Advocacy News, Economic Development