Milwaukee officially makes bid for Amazon's second headquarters

Posted at 6:14 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 19:36:45-04

The Milwaukee area is officially making a pitch to Amazon for its second North American headquarters.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Wednesday that they are sending in their application and think the area will be considered a serious candidate.

Some cities are taking creative and elaborate approaches to get Amazon's attention, but Barrett said Milwaukee deliberately didn't do that.

"We are as competitive, if not more competitive than any city in this country," he said.

Amazon plans to invest $5 billion in the city it chooses, and create up to 50,000 jobs.

Wisconsin's bid was submitted on behalf of the Milwaukee 7, an economic development platform for the seven counties in southeastern Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.

Barrett says our region sits in a powerful triangle between Madison and Chicago, making it a prime location for Amazon's second headquarters.

"We're sort of a diamond in the rough," he said. "We're an understated community. This is our opportunity. I think if they take a look at this community carefully and see what we have here, they’re going to be very, very impressed."

Amazon is looking for a metropolitan area with more than one million people, access to an international airport, a mass transit system and a location close to major highways.

The company also needs 500,000 square feet of space just to get started, with the potential of taking up 8 million square feet in the next 10 years.

Barrett would not say what sites they are proposing.

"I can tell you this, there are sites within the city, there are sites within the county, and there are sites within the Milwaukee 7 region," he said. "All of these sites are suitable for the demands and requests that Amazon is making."

Barrett also says he's highlighting our proximity to Lake Michigan and the available workforce from local universities.

"We are at the point in the triangle where we are large enough, we have enough of the amenities and we are close enough to attract talent from both of those regions that I am very confident we will meet the talent needs," he said.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow joined Barrett to make the announcement. As part of the M7 organization, Farrow says many companies praise the Wisconsin workforce.

"We have what everybody’s looking for," said Farrow. "We’re not flashy, we’re good old fashioned Midwest values that says you want us to work, work hard, you want a company to come here be profitable and expand, this is the area to do it."

As far as mass transit goes, Barrett said he knows it's a controversial subject but Milwaukee's transit system has started and he knows it will have to grow more.

He also wouldn't specify on any incentive packages, and said incentives are mentioned generally in the proposal, but they did not give any dollar amounts.

All cities have to submit their applications by October 19. Amazon says it will make its final selection sometime next year.