Business Leaders, Universities Lend A Hand In RI’s Amazon Bid

Oct 20, 2017

Thursday marked the deadline for metro areas across North America to submit bids for Amazon's second headquarters, and Rhode Island enlisted help from some prominent local business leaders and universities for its application.

In its attempt to lure the $5 billion project, which promises to bring about 50,000 jobs, Rhode Island’s Commerce Corporation launched a website with recommendations from executives with companies based in the state.

“The cost of living and quality of life are unsurpassed versus any other location,” said Tom Gilbane, CEO of Gilbane, Inc., a construction and real estate development company.

Other recommendations came from toy-maker Hasbro, Amica Mutual Insurance and Citizens Financial Group.

In their testimonials, several businesses listed qualities the Seattle-based online retailer needs for its new headquarters, including close proximity to an international airport, access to a mass transit system and good schools.

State officials emphasized higher education, proposing a partnership between universities and Amazon-- a so-called Amazon Academy-- designed to give the company’s employees easy access to continuing education, and professional development opportunities.

“The Academy will braid together offerings from Rhode Island’s colleges and universities and will serve as a one-stop-shop for Amazon employees to access programming that is tailored to the company,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor in a statement.

The smallest state in the country offered other traits Amazon hasn’t explicitly mentioned in its request for proposals.

“You’d have the access, influence and impact that come from being in a dominant employer in our state,” said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. “But you’d be right in the middle of a multi-million dollar regional economy.”

Several cities and towns in the region are submitting bids of their own, and Rhode Island’s proposed locations are competing against major metropolitan areas like Boston.

Rhode Island submitted seven possible locations for the so-called HQ2: Providence, Pawtucket-Central Falls, East Providence, Warwick, North Kingstown, Richmond and Woonsocket. 

Outside of Boston, other Massachusetts cities to submit bids include Fall River – home to an Amazon distribution center, New Bedford and Taunton.  

Whereas Massachusetts has made its bid for Amazon's headquarters public, Raimondo told WPRO News Rhode Island will not follow suit for competitive reasons. 

Rhode Island's cost of packaging its Amazon pitch is not currently available. 

This post has been updated.