- Atlanta is a finalist for Amazon's second headquarters. Stonecrest, a city 20 miles east of Atlanta, has included several suggestions as part of the nationwide offer.
- In an interview with CityLab, Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said he would try to remove part of the city and call it "Amazon, Georgia" when the tech giant came. Stonecrest also proposes a shipment distribution route called "Jeff Bezos Parkway 1000".
- Georgia's offer indicates the lengths local politicians are willing to land HQ2.
The competition for Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2, heats up.
Earlier this year, the technology giant announced 20 metro areas as finalists for the $ 5 billion campus, which is expected to create 50,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years. One of those leaders is the Atlanta, Georgia area, which has submitted a proposal with some suggestions from the remote town of Stonecrest.
Stonecrest outlined several perks that the technology giants could receive if they chose Georgia as their second home.
In an interview with CityLab's Brentin Mock, Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said he would dismantle 335 acres (15 million square feet) of Stonecrest and call the new city "Amazon, Georgia." This area, which is largely industrial, would serve as part or all of the HQ2 site. In Amazon RFP, the company said it would need up to 8 million square feet of open space by 2027.
"We must create [Amazon, Georgia] by the legislature, and since I'm the architect of this city, I know how to do that," Lary said to CityLab. "You're shedding 345 acres of land, then you get the senators and the House of Representatives to back it up, and with a $ 5 billion investment at stake, there's a good chance that it will happen."
In addition, Stonecrest would build a freeway and call for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Lary said.
"They could have their own distribution road called Jeff Bezos Parkway 1000," he told CityLab. "How nice would that be?"
Stonecrest is a new city, so maybe it's not as crazy as it sounds to make such big changes. Residents of the formerly unincorporated area in the southeast of the DeKalb district voted in November 2016 to officially enter a city, a move that came into force in 2017.
While Amazon, Georgia, is only a hypothetical at the time, it is not unknown to USA to start a community and appoint a CEO. However, practice was more common in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Over the past two hundred years, companies in the US have built corporate cities – communities where they own large parts of homes, shops, schools, churches, streets, and parks. When these cities were founded, the company was often the largest employer.
Examples include Hershey, Pennsylvania (named after the famous chocolatier Milton Hershey in the early 1900s) and Lowell, Massachusetts (named after Francis Cabot Lowell, the late founder of the Boston Manufacturing Company, 1823).
There is also a history in the US of public infrastructure – a highway proposed in this case – named after CEOs. A section of California's Highway 87 in San Jose received the name of former HP CEO Lewis Platt in 2008, while a four-lane section of a freeway near Neodesha, Kansas, honors the founder and CEO of Cobalt Boats, Pack St. Clair.
But unlike Bezos, these CEOs had a connection to the area before the highways were built. In 1996, Platt worked as a fundraising chair on a campaign in Santa Clara County for improving highway and transit, and personally garnered $ 900,000. Cobalt Boats began producing high-end speedboats in Neodesha in the late 1960s.
Apart from the prospect of Amazon coming to Georgia, Bezos has no direct relations with the state. (The company has a few warehouses in Georgia, as it is in almost every US state.)
1000 Jeff Bezos Parkway sounds like it's for Amazon shipping companies only and not for public use. But to build it, Stonecrest could use public money in the form of local subsidies.
Although Georgia's bid has not yet been released, Governor Nathan Deal has hinted that the state is aggressively pursuing HQ2 with economic and infrastructural incentives. On a recent city tour, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that the state and the city are providing incentives and infrastructure improvements of more than $ 1 billion.
The state's offer includes urban and suburban locations and highlights the region's transit and airport facilities, labor and research universities, Atlanta Vice Commissioner for Global Trade Tom Croteau recently told the Board of Directors in Midtown Atlanta.
Stonecrest's proposals highlight the extreme lengths cities are willing to go to land on HQ2. New Jersey promises $ 7 billion in tax breaks; New York City offers more than 26 million square feet of space in three districts; and Dallas-area developers are throwing a transit-oriented development that would include a high-speed train for Amazon's campus.
Amazon is currently touring through its finalist cities and will make its decision in 2018.