On Thursday morning, the City of Philadelphia was “thrilled” to learn that it had made the short list for Amazon’s second headquarters. The finalists include 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas, whittled down from the 238 proposals that rolled in when Amazon first announced its search in 2017.
So what’s next?
“We don’t know yet,” said Harold Epps, Philadelphia’s Commerce Director who spearheaded the Amazon HQ2 Coalition that put together the city’s official bid. “But I’ve been told that it’s going to be a busy next few weeks.”
Epps said that the city was notified by Amazon via e-mail that it was a finalist, about the same time the e-commerce giant made the public announcement. Philly’s point of contact at Amazon said a conference call will follow to discuss the next steps this week.
Amazon said in its announcement that it will take a deeper dive into the remaining cities’ proposals and likely request more information. It plans to make its final decision this year.
Epps said he and the rest of the city are “ecstatic” about Philadelphia being named a finalist, and expected to see most of the other cities that also made the cut. Although, he added, it was surprising to learn that Detroit did not make the short list.
Ahead of forthcoming meetings, Epps said he feels “very confident” about Philly’s chances of landing Amazon’s second headquarters, touting off the city’s talent pool, location, and developable locations. He would not comment specifically on the tax incentives that were offered in the bid, but said they were “aggressive but not irresponsible.”
Of the three spots (Schuylkill Yards, uCity Square, and Navy Yard) that Philly offered for Amazon’s second headquarters, Epps said, “The way I would summarize it is that if they want community, go to West Philadelphia. If they want a campus, choose the Navy Yard.”
In the coming weeks and months, the city will continue to collaborate across all sectors like it did with the Amazon HQ2 Coalition ahead of the bid. Epps said they’ll continue to work with small businesses to build off the strength of the Amazon HQ2 bid.
In the meantime, Epp says, “We have to remind ourselves that this is only the beginning.”