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As soon as Amazon announced at the beginning of September that it was looking for a second headquarters outside of Seattle, the city of Philadelphia wholeheartedly embraced the challenge of winning what some have already called “the trophy deal of the decade.” Philadelphia has already launched a grassroots social media campaign to woo Amazon and is actively crowdsourcing ideas from local citizens of what to include in its final proposal.
The #PhillyDelivers campaign
Most prominently, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney launched a #PhillyDelivers hashtag campaign on Twitter using the official account of the mayor’s office (@PhillyMayor). The hashtag is a way for everyday people in Philadelphia – and especially people within the city’s tech community – to share their best ideas and practices for what to include in the proposal.
There are 3 primary sites that Philadelphia has identified as meeting the needs of Amazon – the Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square in West Philadelphia and the Navy Yard in South Philly – in terms of infrastructure, location and proximity to both top talent and affordable living for a new influx of up to 50,000 new Amazon employees. There are a lot of requirements in the Amazon RFP, and the #PhillyDelivers hashtag is one way to make sure that all the key attributes of those locations are brought to the attention of the city’s economic development authorities.
The race to collect 1 million signatures
Secondly, the city, in coordination with PhillyTech, has launched a “Bring Amazon to Philly” petition available at ThinkBigPhilly.com. The goal of the petition is to collect 1 million signatures of people in the Philadelphia area who are excited about Amazon bringing new jobs and new opportunities to Philly. Since Amazon has specifically made the availability of top tech talent and a young millennial population a key part of what needs to go into the RFP, the idea is that 1 million signatures is excellent proof of what the city can offer in terms of a tech-savvy, highly-education local population.
The result of this immediate social media campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, with many media outlets now describing Philadelphia as one of the frontrunners to win the Amazon bid. The fact that the city has the support of both top-down government officials and bottoms-up tech enthusiasts could send a strong signal to Amazon: Philadelphia is a great choice to become the city of HQ2.
Philadelphia’s attempt to out-bid other cities
Certainly, Philadelphia has all the essentials required by Amazon – a strong talent base, local universities, well-developed fiber optic and cell phone infrastructure, proximity to mass transport and highways, and plenty of support from potential Amazon partners like the cable giant Comcast. Plus, a Philly location would give Amazon an East Coast presence to complement its West Coast Seattle HQ.
At a time when other cities considered to be frontrunners – such as Dallas and Chicago – offer many of the same benefits and features as Philadelphia, the final advantage could go to Philadelphia for its positive, upbeat grassroots social media campaign. Remember – Amazon is facing a certain amount of pushback from local Seattle citizens and urban planners about the company’s enormous impact on the local economy (such as its ability to wrangle tax breaks and economic incentives). Just as not all communities want a new Wal-Mart, not all communities want Amazon.
Thus, the West Coast tech giant is reportedly looking for a “soft landing” in a city where officials and citizens will welcome the company with open arms. One million signatures and a vibrant social media campaign would be the final proof that Philadelphia really is the best location for the new Amazon HQ2.