Why Amazon Should Pick Sacramento
(Editor’s note: This blog originally appear on Medium)
Amazon has announced, quite publicly, intent to build a second corporate headquarters (HQ2) in a location other than Seattle, and is actively soliciting bids or incentives from interested city and state governments. Many cities are expected to respond to the request, in anticipation of myriad benefits that follow from an employment base of around 50,000 (eventually) and all the ecosystem businesses that would follow a large Amazon headquarter location.
Not everyone would qualify, though. Amazon has put various conditions, including a population base of 1 million, proximity to an airport, high speed Internet connectivity, good traffic situation etc. While cities like Pittsburgh, Dallas and Atlanta seem interested, places like Denver and Salt Lake City come to my mind, because they have a subculture that would not be too out of sync from that in Seattle.
But my money is on … Sacramento.
True, Sacramento lacks the 1 million population. Perhaps the city can’t even demonstrate evidence of widespread very high-speed (fiber) Internet connections. But neither limitation is significant. The first can be overcome. The 1 million number, I think, is not really a constraint in letter. Rather it exists to indicate a desire for a cosmopolitan and somewhat liberal population. Sacramento and surrounding areas have that. Moreover, the population numbers aren’t too far off. Sacramento City is half a million people (and is the fastest growing in California) and the metropolitan area is 2.5 million. The second issue of Internet connections is fixable.
Instead, Sacramento has a lot going in favor of it.
One, it is home to the state capital, creating for Amazon a substantial ability to influence economic policy and ensure a favorable business climate.
Second, it is 15 miles away from UC Davis, a national Top 10 public university, with a comprehensive footprint that covers computer science, business, economics, medicine, engineering, humanities, liberal arts etc., and not to mention a just-launched badass Business Analytics program. Sacramento State University is right there as well. Amazon would have no trouble finding young, bright and highly qualified talent.
There’s more: Sacramento airport is 15 minutes away and a pleasure to fly in and out of. Flat open space for warehouses, data centers, and the like, are plenty. The region has some of the best locally grown food in the country. UC Davis is a top research university in agriculture and food — all aspects of it including science, technology and business — which should suit Amazon’s push into areas such as fresh food. Public transport may not be fantastic but it exists, both light rail and a well traveled Amtrak route. And importantly, the vibe is not too different from Seattle — hip, liberal, good food and coffee, great recreational opportunities, and finally less than 2 hours from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
So, we hope that the Mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg, California Governor Jerry Brown, and UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, all come together to create an innovative and compelling story to convince Amazon to pick Sacramento!