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A Cactus For A Campus? Cities Are Getting Seriously Creative In Their Push To Win Amazon HQ2

National Office

Though applications are not due until Oct. 19, cities competing for the new Amazon HQ2 are already getting seriously creative.

From mailing a giant cacti to Jeff Bezos to having Alexa vouch for its town, North American metropolises are leaving no stone unturned in their push to attract the $5B investment, the New York Times reports.

Amazon campus, Seattle

A few weeks into the new school year, students at the Wharton Business School are getting in on the competition and working on a pitch for Philadelphia as part of their fall semester assignment. Dozens of local startups have gotten in on the process, providing testimonials about the booming economy and advice about how to best pitch Amazon.

In Frisco, Texas, the mayor has offered to build the remainder of the city around the tech titan's headquarters. And the mayor of Danbury, Connecticut, tried to use Amazon’s own technology to convince it to move to his city. The mayor posted a video in mid-September in which Alexa, the Amazon virtual assistant, said it should build its headquarters in Danbury.

Gary, Indiana, which lost its manufacturing base in the late 20th century due to the steel industry’s domestic decline, made a serious yet playful pitch for the headquarters in a full-page ad in the New York Times. 

Canadians, meanwhile, are trying to use their liberal immigration policy as a way to lure Amazon. Detroit, which sits right next to Windsor, Canada, is working together with the north in an effort to convince Amazon it would have the best of both worlds should it settle on that location.

Denver, Colorado, may not have the most creative pitch, but it does have a burgeoning tech industry, a wealth of talent and a high quality of life, giving its leaders a sense of confidence.

Perhaps the most creative pitch to date has been from Tucson, Arizona. The city had a 21-foot cactus, which will grow to be up to 40 feet tall, sent directly to Bezos in an effort to show that the city is growing, adaptive and durable.

Amazon later thanked Tucson but sent the plant back saying it could not accept gifts. 

The tech giant issued its request for proposals early in September and has since been soliciting bids from state governments and local officials interested in bringing the $5B headquarters to their communities. The 8.1M SF campus would employ an estimated 50,000 people.