Mayor Kenney On Amazon HQ2: 'We're Gonna Win This'
At a press conference in the basement auditorium of the Barnes Foundation museum on Thursday, Mayor Jim Kenney and a group of business leaders reveled in the work they had put in for their Amazon HQ2 proposal.
“We have come together to rally around a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Drexel University President and Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Fry said. “[Amazon HQ2 would be] the economic equivalent of hitting the Powerball.”
The event debuted Philadelphia Delivers, the website that houses videos, maps and data showing off how the city meets Amazon's requirements and preferences for its second home.
"Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon," Kenney said. "Our location is central on the Northeast corriodor, our talent pool is vast, and Philadelphia has all of the amenities Amazon's employees want at a lower cost than other big cities."
Noting the Moody's study that ranked Philadelphia among the very top candidates for HQ2, Kenney strayed from his prepared remarks to reveal his unbridled optimism for Philly's case.
"We're gonna win this," Kenney said to raucous applause from the packed house.
Philadelphia may indeed tick all of the boxes in Amazon's request for proposals, but the State of Pennsylvania has only promised $1B in tax incentives, which pales in comparison to the $7B offered by New Jersey if Amazon were to choose Newark. The City Council is considering adding a $2B, 10-year tax abatement to the pot, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The website and the recruitment video shown to those in attendance were both entirely developed by Philadelphia businesses such as the Tactile Group, Leveler, Azavea, J2 Design and Interface Studio — led by Skai Blue Media's Rakia Reynolds, who served as creative director for the pitch.
The video included Philly figures like Pennslvania University President Amy Gutmann, Thomas Jefferson University President Stephen Klasko, Iron Chef and restarauteur Jose Garces and Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid.
Fry also confirmed that Philly's pitch focused on three sites: uCity Square and Schuylkill Yards in University City and the Navy Yard in South Philly. According to the presentation, all three can individually accommodate 100% of Amazon's space requirements.
While the University City sites boast proximity to commuter, regional and light rail systems, the Navy Yard only has a shuttle service for its public transit option — a requirement of Amazon's RFP. Business leaders have clamored for the Broad Street Line to be extended south to the Navy Yard, Amazon or no Amazon.
“[HQ2] would certainly provide the impetus [for the extension], but we’d be talking about a $700-900M project," Kenney told Bisnow after the event. "It would be a big dig, but Amazon would certainly help to make it happen ... The concerns are purely budgetary, and we need to convince the Commonwealth and the country of the importance of infrastructure.”