Those urging “restraint” in our state’s bid to become Amazon’s second headquarters site are not doing us any favors (“Bid for Amazon lacks flash, glitz,” Oct. 8).
Remember, we compete — every day — in the global economy. The Amazon enterprise has transformed American business. Why wouldn’t we try to work with them on a global scale, particularly since it already has established regional offices in a cutting-edge building in the North Loop?
Attracting Amazon need not be a zero-sum game. It isn’t always about winners and losers. As Amazon has rolled out distribution centers around the country, too many communities have engaged in economic development wars in an effort to land them and coughed up too much public money. If we’re smart — which we are, as Stuart Smalley reminds us — we can set the rules of the game so we don’t get fleeced.
An educated workforce is one of our strong suits, but to grow our economy we need more workers. Demographic trends indicate there won’t be enough young, homegrown talent to meet the need. So let’s try something else. Let’s build on our already strong economy, attract the best businesses in the world and develop new models for growth.
We may be flyover country, but we’re also the heartland. Our quality of life is unsurpassed. They like us here. We’ve already staked out our values. The creative economy in Silicon Prairie is flourishing because we’ve done the hard work over generations and much of the critical physical, human and cultural infrastructure is in place. Amazon’s site requirements focus primarily on a region’s business climate, not corporate welfare.
Note: To those concerned about protecting homegrown Target and Best Buy, we should not forget the generous and well-deserved governmental assistance afforded those companies for their corporate campuses. In the heartland, the corporate quid pro quo for economic development packages is giving back, which Target and Best Buy do every day. By attracting Amazon, maybe we can teach them something about being a good neighbor.
Rather than retreat under the cover of cultural modesty, let’s go for it and compete — if not with flash, at least with conviction. Making the pitch reminds us how great this place is and how we as a community need to find new ways to grow and prosper.
Chuck Leer, of Minneapolis, is co-founder of 2020 Partners. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.