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Little Rock to try for Amazon's $5 billion 2nd headquarters; 'challenge' worth it for 'transformational' project, mayor says

By Arkansas Online

This article was originally published September 11, 2017 at 5:23 p.m. Updated September 12, 2017 at 10:10 a.m.


FILE - In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, file photo, the Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. Amazon announced Thursday, Sept. 7, that it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Should Little Rock submit an application for Amazon's second headquarters?

  • Yes, it's worth it for a project that could bring great things to the city 67% 169 votes
  • No, the city doesn't fulfill the qualifications and it's not worth the effort 32% 81 votes

250 total votes.

The mayor of Arkansas' capital city says Little Rock will submit an application to become the location of Amazon's second headquarters.

Mark Stodola wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon that the city "will Think Big and Be Creative" as it creates its bid to attract the tech giant.

In a statement, Stodola acknowledged the effort would be a "challenge" but said landing the headquarters would amount to a "transformational project for Little Rock and Arkansas."

Amazon said Thursday that it plans to spend more than $5 billion to build a second headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees, The Associated Press previously reported.

The company's requirements: It wants 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; have direct access to mass transit; and wants to be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. Its original headquarters is in Seattle.

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Little Rock's airport does not have United States Customs Service or direct international flights, according to its website. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metro area had a population of 731,612 in 2015.

But in the statement, Stodola noted that the city "sits geographically in the middle of the country with access to road, rail, river, and runway at our disposal."

"Our local and regional talent in software and related fields is strong and getting stronger," he said. "Amazon is particularly interested in entrepreneurs who are seizing the opportunity of the digital economy. With our Venture Center, the Tech Park, the Innovation Hub, Acxiom and Merkel, FIS, and the UA-Little Rock's Emerging Analytics Center, among many others, Little Rock fits the bill. The city has shown leadership in other areas Amazon values including sustainability and a push for 'smart cities.'"

Stodola said the city will work with the economic development team at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to make its bid. He said more details would be released when the team meets next week.

Jim Strickland, the mayor of Memphis, said his city will "absolutely make a bid." Other reportedly interested cities include Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Comments on: Little Rock to try for Amazon's $5 billion 2nd headquarters; 'challenge' worth it for 'transformational' project, mayor says

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PopMom says... September 11, 2017 at 6 p.m.

Yes, Bezos is going to plunk it down in the middle of a crime infested city with a horrible school district. Northwest Arkansas would have a better shot. Stodala should concentrate on improving the schools and combating crime. Maybe, he should read up on what Bloomberg did in New York.

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Delta2 says... September 11, 2017 at 6:43 p.m.

It's good to aim big, but this is unrealistic.

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mloydcaingmailcom says... September 11, 2017 at 6:48 p.m.


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RBear says... September 11, 2017 at 7:29 p.m.

This is more a PR stunt by Stodola to make sure he looks relevant in the mix. If he seriously wanted to compete, he would have been more aggressive in helping secure Rock Region Metro's funding in the public vote. Instead, he stewed because they didn't come to him asking for support (I'm not lying about that). Maybe he should be following the model of other great mayors who worked as a team with the organizations supporting their cities rather than trying to play overlord.
I've looked at the bid and plan to blog about it for my San Antonio friends. They are bidding and from what I see, both San Antonio and Austin come up short. Austin's mass transit is anemic at best and San Antonio's is non-existent. One thing that would hamper Little Rock's ability is the regressive politics of this state. Bezos is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and equal rights for his employees including transgender employees. Arkansas' conservative regressive attitude would shut the door on that bid.
BTW PM, NW Arkansas is out. Walmart would fight any attempt to locate HQ2 in their neck of the woods, creating an opportunity for talent drain.

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arkateacher54 says... September 11, 2017 at 7:56 p.m.

I appears LR doesn't meet any of Amazons criteria. Why exactly is Sodola wasting the cities time and money on this? LR is the same dumb, regressive town it has always been. I wouldn't put the HQ of a lemonade stand there.

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adibabdullah80gmailcom says... September 11, 2017 at 9 p.m.

Im glad they are atleast trying. Little Rock Metro aint got a million people, but there is a million+ people that live within a 50 mile Square radius of LR, so it is atleast worth the effort. It doesnt hurt to try....

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DoubleBlind says... September 11, 2017 at 9:24 p.m.

Cute but simultaneously sad. RBear makes a good point. Even if AR met selection criteria, because it's home to WMT, it would be disqualified. Denver is most likely winner.

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Packman says... September 11, 2017 at 10 p.m.

Agree with RBear about PR sent. Stodala trying to deflect from real issues.
Would bet Bezos picks someplace within 10 miles of a beach but would like to see it in a place like Detroit where once thriving economies have suffered great losses in the past several years.

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Razorbacks901 says... September 11, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.

A joke if Memphis is considered. There crime is out of control, and the workforce is very uneducated. Most of its workforce candidates don't have a H.S. diploma, and couldn't pass a drug test....

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Plato99 says... September 12, 2017 at 12:31 a.m.

FedEx would be in Little Rock today if the city hadn't blown them off. All Fred Smith, formerly of Little Rock, wanted was a dedicated runway and Little Rock's wiseheads said no, so off to Memphis FedEx went and ultimately 45,000 jobs went to Memphis, which was once a lovely city. Not now, but FedEx is stuck there, anyway.

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