After Amazon announced HQ2 — its plans for a second North American headquarters which will cost about $5 billion and bring in about 50,000 jobs — Denver quickly became a frontrunner amidst media speculation for the next location.
Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., which promotes site selection for the nine county area surrounding Denver, including Larimer and Weld counties, is already on the path for submitting a proposal.
“That’s what our organization was created for,” CEO J.J. Ament told BizWest. “Within that nine county region there are 70 different municipalities, and we work in partnership. When we have prospects like this, they work through us to put forward one common message.”
In addition to working with municipalities, Metro Denver works with the governor’s office to make sure the region and state are speaking with one voice. Metro Denver is a private sector organization whose goal is to find projects like HQ2 or other company relocations and entice them to the Front Range.
When Amazon announced its plans for HQ2 last week, the tech giant revealed several criteria it was looking for in its request for proposals, due Oct. 19. To qualify, a location had to be in North America with 1 million people in the metro area. The area had to be a stable and business-friendly, urban or suburban and have the ability to attract strong talent. Amazon said it was looking for its second headquarters to be 30 miles within a population center, within 45 minutes of an international airport, within two miles of major highways and have access to mass transit on-site. Quality of life is also an important factor, as is the ability to locate a facility or campus that could be up to 8 million square feet.
When those factors are taken into consideration, publications like the New York Times were able to whittle Amazon’s selection down to one best contender: Denver.
It’s something that Ament likes to see.
“We’re delighted any time we read publications or hear news reports that recognized what we already know,” he said. “Colorado is a great place to live and work. It’s a place that has a thriving business community to grow and scale your company in a way that is going to be successful. We’re delighted that everyone seems to recognize that and report on that.”
To submit a proposal from the region, Metro Denver has started site selection through the nine county area, working with municipalities and the state to find the locations that are most competitive, said Sam Bailey, vice president of Metro Denver.
So far, it seems communities in Metro Denver’s coverage area are on-board. When contacted, both Upstate CO, which represents economic development in Weld County, and Broomfield Economic Development directed BizWest to Metro Denver for comment.
“We look forward to working with Metro Denver and the state in hope of landing Amazon in the metro Denver region,” Bo Martinez, director of Broomfield Economic Development, told BizWest.
To Ament, it makes perfect sense why a company like Amazon, which he calls a major thought leader, would look at an area like the Front Range.
“There are lots of things that make us attractive, beyond quality of life,” he said. “We have four seasons of outdoor recreation and 300 days of sunshine every year. We’re the second-most highly educated workforce in the U.S. We have a young and highly technical workforce. And we’ve invested tremendously in the infrastructure around Denver Airport, one of the most advanced airports.”
Couple that with the connectivity and geographical placement Denver has, and Ament said it’s hard to find a place that brings so many advantages together the way this part of Colorado does.
Ultimately, Ament and Metro Denver hope to showcase that to Amazon.
“At the end of the day, our goal with Amazon or any company is first they choose Colorado and then they choose our region,” he said. “And where within the region they choose is a decision best made by the company themselves. It’s our role to put our best foot forward as a region and all come together to deliver and execute on a strategy that best suits the company. We don’t compete with each other, we collaborate and work for the best of the region and the state.”