BALTIMORE – What could have been.
"It could have changed the city," said developer Marc Weller.
He sat in a quiet conference room near Port Covington, an industrial area waterfront at the south end of Baltimore, which became the ideal home for the second Amazon headquarters. A year ago, in the same conference room, civilian leaders were shamed over Amazon's open calls for any North American big city for bankruptcy for the role once a year. Baltimore was everything. There were also dozens of other cities.
It was not the usual process of selecting corporate sites. It seemed that Amazon wanted to make a real statement with what was known as HQ2. Why another state such a special and public performance?
And then Amazon announced this week that 50,000 highly qualified HQ2 workers would be split between Crystal City outside Washington and Long Island City in New York.
"The usual suspects," Weller said, "and do not need the Amazon."
Not like Baltimore. Or Philadelphia. Buffalo. Charlotte, even. Or Detroit.
"Again," Weller said, "it's as if we were never running."
236 Cooperative Cities that have not captured the Amazon's eye face renewed uncertainty about the ability to compete for so-called knowledge positions that will lead to the country's future economic growth. Some have suggested that the loss of the pitch is a good training for another big deal. Others hope that Amazon could take advantage of bids of data-rich documents to find other projects. That's probably what happened to Nashville, who escaped away with the promise of 5,000 new Amazon jobs.
But Amazon's hunt was disturbing for many cities. The final decision to go with two fast-growing coastal hubs only highlighted concerns about the dynamics of the winning modern economy.
"This rich story is richer," said Stephen Walters, professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland. "And it raises a big question for these other cities: How do you get into that league?"
It is not easy. Amazon's decision emphasizes the obvious attraction of technical sites that resemble the sea and the pressure on companies to decide on expansion that are safe investments. (The Washington Post is owned by Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos.)
"I think Amazon was sincere," said Tom Stringer, who runs the bid for BDO's business consulting firm, to search for new office space. But chances were put against less obvious cities due to the enormous HQ2 rate. Amazon has a responsibility to shareholders to reduce their risk, said Stringer. The fact that placing a new headquarters in a city that could not handle it could lead to a failure.
Over the past five years, tech companies located in the top markets with the headquarters of Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and New York have added new office space in these markets or several other popular cities such as Chicago and Austin. a recent report from the CBRE Commercial Property Research Company. Right now, Google says it is looking to add more than 10,000 tech jobs in New York.
Amazon's decision shows bonuses for tempting workers.
"They are choosing talent to earn more than other income," Stringer said, "and there are plenty of arguments about economic growth incentives."
Some of the cities have left frustration with Amazon's decision – and it was not just sour grapes, they said. It had to do with how the tech giant had mastered the process, the feedback they had gained, and ultimately the decision that it was said seemed to betray the whole intent.
Still, Baltimore figured he had a good shot.
The city had long been sitting in the shadow of Washington – a dilapidated metropolis, just 35 miles from Interstate 95, but seemingly far away. Baltimore's median household income is about half that of Washington. But Baltimore also offers benefits, including house prices that are 80 percent lower. (Yes, that's right: $ 99,600 vs. $ 525,900.)
Port Covington is an area of 235 acres located in the south of Camden Yard and Inner Harbor. The former railway terminal was purchased by Sagamore Development, a real estate firm founded by Weller and Under Armour, CEO Kevin Plank. The new headquarters of the company based in Baltimore are here. Plans require a mixed use development of $ 5.5 billion. And Amazon had plenty of space to build exactly what he wanted.
"When we heard about Amazon, it was like," We have a perfect place, "said Steve Siegel, a partner of Weller Development, who is working on this site.
It has a large airport nearby. It has an interstate government right at his door. Major universities are nearby. It was planned to bring the project to a commuter railway stop. The Governor of Maryland has supported Baltimore's offer – despite the Montgomery suburban Montgomery's competitive offer, which has generated public stimulus of $ 5 billion.
Supporters of Port Covington clearly expected Amazon to be even less tangible. The Baltimore Course, loaded on Kindles and sent to Amazon, argued that it was more than just the second headquarters: "The HQ2 project will be – in the right place – an opportunity for a real urban revitalization and a revival of the community."
It might sound glorious. However, developers have pointed to businesses that measure not only their fiscal improvements but also their social impact.
"We have a double bottom, we believe in it," Weller said.
"And we thought they would think the same," Siegel said.
But Baltimore did not create a list of 20 finalist cities.
Not even Charlotte.
The city was stunned when Nashville and even Raleigh, an international rival, were nominated finalists. "What's going on with our city?" She was curious about the extras in Charlotte Observers. The business development world has taken note of.
"The leaders are in Charlotte in this direction," said John Boyd, a corporate website designer at Princeton, New Jersey.
In September, Charlotte Regional Partnership, who became the head of the Amazon City, announced that he had joined the Charlotte Chamber. The new group will have a new leader along with a new – and still undecided – name.
Officials are still wondering where it all went wrong.
"I am still surprised," said Tariq Bokhari, City Council, who was involved in the preparation of the Charlotte Amazon offer.
Bokhari said the tech giant said lack of technical talent was one of the city's disadvantages. But Bokhari pointed out that Charlotte has no problem attracting new workers, making them one of the fastest growing cities.
Then last month, Charlotte was named an important computing group as the first place for tech talent to be able to live and work.
For Bokhari it even more casts doubt on the criticism of Amazon.
"It felt as if they had already decided where to go," he said.
The lack of these talents was the same feedback that Amazon gave Baltimore.
But city officials said there was a talent – and could be attracted by baltimore spells. They have referred to cyber-security companies that have recently announced their plans to start operations in Port Covington.
While the amateur show has little parallel, it remembers when General Motors announced plans to produce a $ 5 billion automotive factory for its new Saturn brand in 1985. Governors from more than two dozen states visited Detroit to personally chair GM Chairman . Cities built billboards on Detroit motorways to decorate their virtues. The group of governors even finished an interview with Phil Donahue to make his case.
GM has built its Saturn race in Spring Hill, Tenn., Outside Nashville. The Saturn brand was killed in 2010. But the car factory is still there, making it Cadillac and GMC.
Upon Amazon's decision, at least one developer said he envied how Little Rock dealt with last year's: She had a full-page ad in The Washington Post when she claimed she was not even bothered to run for HQ2 – "It's Just Not Us."