LA Leaders Continue Push for Amazon HQ2

With the Oct. 19 deadline fast approaching, one councilman continues to push for a site in the San Fernando Valley.

by Elizabeth Chou, Daily News / October 5, 2017

(TNS) -- Some have scoffed that Los Angeles’s chances of scoring Amazon’s second headquarters are slim, especially with more than 50 cities potentially in the running. But that has not stopped Councilman Bob Blumenfield from pushing hard to convince the company to put down roots in the San Fernando Valley.

Blumenfield last month made a public pitch to bring the tech conglomerate to the former Rocketdyne site in Warner Center.

And with the Oct. 19 deadline for Amazon’s bid submission fast approaching, he is expected to continue pushing for it as the City Council begins discussing potential sites and incentive ideas in the coming weeks.

Blumenfield spokesman Jake Flynn said that “based on what Amazon has announced, what they are looking for, the West Valley is a pretty good option.” He pointed to the area’s proximity to the airports in Burbank and Van Nuys, and to public transit.

Amazon, which has its headquarters in Seattle, has a list of qualifications that the city should have to host its second location. They include a population of more than a million, business-friendliness, and suburban and urban areas that attract qualified technical workers. The company also said that it wants cities to “think big and creatively” when pitching locations.

According to Blumenfield’s office, the Rocketdyne site is the answer to the company’s needs. That location is “a very, very large parcel of land that would be a wonderful property for … Amazon, just because it would fit in that culture there,” Flynn said.

In a recent op-ed, Blumenfield touted what he views as the pluses of Amazon moving to the Valley’s Warner Center. He called the commercial district, which has several high-density residential buildings now in construction, “a thriving community that can accommodate the visitors and workforce Amazon envisions.”

“Some of the region’s most affordable and newest homes are available in the Valley, and there’s something for everyone from mail-room clerks to top-level executives,” he wrote.

Blumenfield also pointed to the local schools, universities and parks, shopping and dining options, as well as “a well-educated, skilled, resourceful and very diverse workforce.”

And in return, Amazon has tantalized cities with the promise that the winner of the bid would see the creation of 50,000 jobs, as well as economic stimulus from a $5 billion construction job.

Flynn said they are working, along with the mayor’s office — which is leading the bid effort — to “talk with Amazon directly, to make sure they’re taking us seriously.”

But it remains to be seen if Blumenfield’s plan would even attract the interest of the mayor’s office, which is keeping its plans close to the chest.

“This project is a remarkable opportunity to bring new jobs and investment to Los Angeles,” said mayoral spokesman Alex Comisar. “We are developing our bid and look forward to participating as the process moves on.”

But Comisar declined to comment on how their office was selecting locations, and whether or not the mayor was interested in the Warner Center proposal, citing that it was a “competitive bid process.”

Meanwhile, other cities have taken a more attention-grabbing approach. One city in Georgia proposed to change its name to Amazon, if chosen. Another sent a cactus to the company, while one city’s officials had giant Amazon delivery boxes placed in various locations.

But one of the challenges for the city might end up being whether the city is able to offer financial perks for the company. Flynn admitted that Los Angeles does not have the kind of “extra incentives that other cities do,” but said some incentive will likely be part of the bid package.

©2017 the Daily News (Los Angeles) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.