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Little Rock won't pursue Amazon's 2nd headquarters after all; it would 'never work,' full-page ad declares

By Rachel Herzog , Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published October 19, 2017 at 9:39 a.m. Updated October 19, 2017 at 11:30 a.m.

little-rock-mayor-mark-stodola-left-and-jay-chesshir-the-president-and-ceo-of-the-little-rock-regional-chamber-attend-a-news-conference-thursday-oct-19-2017

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, left, and Jay Chesshir, the president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, attend a news conference Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.

The city of Little Rock won't submit a bid to become the home of Amazon's second headquarters after all.

In a full page ad that appeared in The Washington Post on Thursday under the heading "Hey Amazon, we need to talk," the city said it has realized it would "probably never work out between us."

"Amazon, you've got so much going for you, and you'll find what you're looking for," the advertisement, presented as a letter to the online retailer, reads. "But it's just not us."

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is also the owner of The Washington Post.

The city said it also had an aerial banner flown over Seattle and the company's existing headquarters. It read: "Hey Amazon, it's not you, it's us."

The efforts are tied to a new campaign to promote the city, dubbed "Love, Little Rock." That's how the letter to Amazon is signed.

Amazon declined to comment on Little Rock's effort.

Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, said city officials realized that while Little Rock may not have met Amazon's requirements, there were other companies whose requirements the city could meet.

"We don't have what [Amazon is] looking for, but we have a whole lot," he said.

Chesshir would not answer specific questions about the campaign's costs, but he said the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on marketing and that this was a unique branding opportunity the city "would have never been able to do any other way." Thursday's campaign involved local advertising agencies Stoneward and Aristotle.

The letter says that the city can't offer Amazon on-site mass transit, which is one of the stipulations for its second headquarters, though it notes that Little Rock residents "can easily get to the office on foot, on a bike or just by a quick drive." And it suggested that Amazon's workforce — an estimated 50,000 jobs at its new headquarters — could cause problems.

"We have a sizable, resourceful workforce, but if we were to concentrate them here, it would be a bummer," the letter reads. "Our lack of traffic and ease of getting around would be totally wrecked, and we can't sacrifice that for you."

Mayor Mark Stodola announced last month that Little Rock would pursue Amazon's new headquarters, calling it a "transformational project" that was worth the effort even though the city didn't appear to meet Amazon's requirements.

The online retailer said it wanted to be near a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, be able to attract top technical talent, be within 45 minutes of an international airport and have direct access to mass transit.

Chesshir didn't say the preemptive breakup was final, adding that the city would still be open to discussion with Amazon.

"Obviously we would talk to everybody and anybody about new opportunities," he said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: Little Rock won't pursue Amazon's 2nd headquarters after all; it would 'never work,' full-page ad declares

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NoUserName says... October 19, 2017 at 9:55 a.m.

So...this was just a stunt?

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AuntPetunia says... October 19, 2017 at 11:42 a.m.

Who paid for that $80K ad?

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PopulistMom says... October 19, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

What a waste of money! Fix the schools and the crime problems and the business will follow. Little Rock never met most of the criteria for the Amazon business. It was never under serious consideration.

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Jfish says... October 19, 2017 at 12:22 p.m.

Why don't we follow the state slogan and try to keep LR more natural rather than allowing every square inch of it to be cleared and paved for roads, shopping centers and postage stamp sized housing developments?

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KingCoyote says... October 19, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

This is stupid and embarrassing. What dodo thought up this idea?

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TravisBickle says... October 19, 2017 at 12:25 p.m.

Nobody could pass a drug or IQ test anyway.

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RBear says... October 19, 2017 at 12:25 p.m.

PM, it was a brilliant PR move. The nation is talking about this and those who understand the bid now have a better understanding of what Little Rock DOES have to offer. I've talked to several people already around the nation and they said this was a stroke of genius in helping attract better fit companies.
...
With regards to the $80K, that was a pretty cheap investment to garner what will probably be millions of dollars worth of exposure.

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TravisBickle says... October 19, 2017 at 12:42 p.m.

Reverse psychology won't work either.

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muzzypat says... October 19, 2017 at 12:55 p.m.

How stupid is this? This area needs more employers. Can we find out who the ignoramus is that paid whatever for that ad?

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RBear says... October 19, 2017 at 1:05 p.m.

muzzypat, so have you read the HQ2 RFP yourself? Can you explain how our city would have been able to meet the needs of it, especially in the time frame required? This was brilliant PR work to help attract other corporations or organizations we CAN support today, not wishful thinking we could never support.

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