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Springfield City Council To Endorse Pitch For Amazon Headquarters

Amazon logo on a building

     Elected officials in the largest city in western Massachusetts are expected to go on record today in support of a bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. 

    The Springfield City Council will vote tonight on a resolution, introduced by City Council President Orlando Ramos, that endorses a regional bid in the huge stakes competition for the facilities Amazon said it is looking to build somewhere in North America.

   " I think they are looking for something unique, something different," said Ramos.  " I am hopeful we'll be able to attract this $5 billion economic development proposal."

  He said Springfield can’t go it alone because the city does not have the population Amazon seeks, but in the area that stretches from Amherst, Massachusetts to Hartford, Connecticut – dubbed the Knowledge Corridor – there are over 3 million people.

   "We have a very unique place here with urban and suburban areas, great natural resources,  just a beautiful place  and I think if (Amazon) takes a look here they will be impressed by what they see," said Ramos.

   One of the selling points Ramos makes in the resolution is that the region boasts one of the highest concentrations of colleges and universities in the country with 41 institutions and 215,000 students.

     Amazon’s release last month of a request for proposals for a site to develop a second headquarters touched off a scramble by city and state officials across the country to put together proposals.  In Massachusetts alone about a dozen municipalities, some acting in partnerships, are preparing to make pitches to Amazon.

  The regional effort the Springfield City Council is expected to endorse is already underway.

   Shortly after Amazon made its announcement, Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, got in touch with the mayors and town administrators in the Pioneer Valley and with Jay Ash, the head of economic development for Gov. Charlie Baker.

" The state is going to have to be  a partner," said Sullivan.

  The Baker administration plans to remain neutral in the in-state competition for Amazon.

  The state offered General Electric a reported $145 million in local and state tax breaks to move its headquarters to Boston last year.

  Boston will be bidding for Amazon along with locations on the state’s south coast and south shore.  The mayors of Lawrence, Haverhill, and North Andover say they plan to send a joint application.

  Sullivan said even if western Massachusetts is not picked to host Amazon’s second headquarters, the process of applying is beneficial.

  "I think it is a good exercise for us to get everybody on the same page as a region and talk about the really great attributes we have here in western Massachusetts," said Sullivan

  Amazon set Oct. 19 as the deadline for proposals.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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