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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cleveland Might Have an Ace up its Sleeve in Bid for Amazon HQ2

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 12:12 PM

Burke Lakefront Airport - JON DAWSON
  • Burke Lakefront Airport
Cleveland has until October 19 to assemble its best proposal for Amazon in the nationwide HQ2 sweepstakes.

Like a slew of other American cities, Cleveland wants to distinguish itself and convince the tech giant to build its second company headquarters here. That could translate into billions of dollars in economic development and thousands of high-level jobs.

Ever since Amazon announced the request for proposals earlier this month, cities across the country have been madly dashing to prepare competitive bids, while editorial boards have been aroused to the point of climax as they fantasize about their town's chances. We're all convinced we have a shot! 

In a sweeping analysis of Cleveland's odds, published in this Sunday's Plain Dealer, Michelle Jarboe interviewed a Brookings fellow who had crunched certain relevant numbers and didn't put Cleveland in his top 20 contenders. But — but — Cleveland has an ace up its sleeve that it may or may not be willing to play.

Burke Lakefront Airport.

In an editorial Wednesday, urged the city to "drop everything" and construct an incentive package for Amazon around Burke.

"Think about it," the editorial said. "What other city could offer Amazon such a jewel, a downtown site fronting on one of the Great Lakes, with public transportation running nearly to the doorstep? ... Offering Amazon the Burke site would give Cleveland an immediate leg up on the competition. Every other site that might be considered in Cleveland would be similar to offerings elsewhere."

Those other potential sites: withering golf courses, the I-X Center, the Warehouse District parking lots... They leave a great deal to be desired.

Jarboe dismissed the possibility of Burke, writing that the site was more or less off the table due to "complexities involving the Federal Aviation Administration, environmental concerns and the sheer cost of putting up buildings on a former landfill."

For the editorial board, those are mere details, to be ironed out after Cleveland is selected. (And maybe they're on to something.)

For now, as is customary, everyone at City Hall is being real tight-lipped about their work. Jarboe reported that members of Frank Jackson's cabinet are working alongside reps from the county, the Greater Cleveland Partnership,  NOACA, CSU, DCA, and Team NEO, the local affiliate of Gov. Kasich's JobsOhio.

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