More companies interested in expanding, locating in Albany area after Amazon HQ2 competition
Albany Business Review
By: Liz Young
That includes video game makers, technology companies and life sciences firms, among others, said Kennedy, who leads the region’s Center for Economic Growth that submitted the Amazon proposal.
“We have seen a clear uptick in companies and economic development firms, consultants, site selectors, seeking more information out about the Capital Region,” Kennedy said.
The interest includes companies looking to locate in the area, as well as businesses already here that would like to expand, he said. He did not disclose names.
The Albany area was not chosen as a finalist in the national competition, for which 238 cities applied. Amazon, which has its main offices in Seattle, has narrowed down its choices to 20 metro areas that include New York City; Boston; Nashville; and Austin, Texas.
Kennedy said the Center for Economic Growth learned lessons from the process that made it worth applying. The materials prepared for the Amazon proposal give the region a more clear template to work off when competing for other companies.
“We’ve had stories for individual sites, but having that regional narrative is something that’s been very helpful for us as we move forward,” he said.
The economic development organization now has a better idea of what companies are looking for in infrastructure, such as water and sewer. The process also reiterated the importance of giving businesses a timeline for getting approvals.
“Part of that is having the clear message about the resources that are available, the timing it takes to put some of those properties into use,” Kennedy said. “It gives us the opportunity to be more proactive and work with some of the large scale projects that would’ve looked over us.”
The workforce in this region is another asset.
“The talent issue is something that there are shortages across the board, so the idea of just demonstrating that what we have as a region, what we have as our workforce, what we have as our educational opportunities, give us a clear advantage as companies are looking at sites,” Kennedy said.
The Center for Economic Growth pitched Amazon on an eight-county region with a population of 1.9 million. Otherwise, the individual cities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Saratoga Springs would not have met Amazon’s requirement that the population be at least 1 million people.
This area has talked about regionalism for decades. People live, work and play across city and county boundaries, but some say that sense of unity needs to be amplified to get the attention of major companies like Amazon.
The lack of a regional identity is something the Center for Economic Growth wants to address in going after other businesses, Kennedy said.
“There’s always going to be that sort of cynicism that we face both within the region and outside the region with articles ranging from The Onion to trade publications,” he said. “The issue that we need to continue to push is that, yes, we are a region.”