More than 600 movers and shakers have signed on to be part of a committee created to promote Chicago’s bid for Amazon’s second North American headquarters.
Now, they’re being invited to a pep rally — minus the pompoms.
The “breakfast meeting” is scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday at the Cultural Center’s showcase Preston Bradley Hall.
It comes 10 days before cities vying for Amazon’s $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs are required to submit their final bids.
“Please join. . . . Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to discuss the opportunity created by Amazon’s potential HQ2 move to the city, county, region and state,” the invitation states.
“We will discuss the work completed to date on our joint response to the RFP and how you and the unprecedented coalition of leaders spanning our business, financial, technology and philanthropic sectors as well as our faith and community-based, arts & culture and civic institutions can support our bid. . . . Thank you for helping us send a strong and unified message that the Chicagoland area is THE best place for Amazon to bring its new headquarters.”
The invitation was signed by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz.
Pritzker and Munoz are part of a rainbow coalition of heavy-hitters co-chairing the committee. The group also includes Loop Capital CEO Jim Reynolds and Abbott Labs Chairman and CEO Miles White.
If only sheer numbers were enough to mask the Chicago area’s biggest drawback: the political dysfunction in Illinois that triggered the marathon state budget stalemate that has left Illinois’ massive pension crisis unsolved.
The Columbus Day pep rally is aimed at masking that weakness and portraying a united front.
City Hall has refused to release the list of sites — or even the overall number of parcels — “nominated” to become the Chicago home of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has called “HQ2.”
The Chicago Sun-Times has focused on a half-a-dozen sites: the Old Main Post Office straddling Congress Parkway, perhaps in conjunction with the adjacent Union Station project; two in the North Branch Industrial Corridor; the Michael Reese Hospital site; the 62 acre site in the South Loop once owned by convicted felon Tony Rezko; and a site at Roosevelt and Ogden avenues that is in the Illinois Medical Center District.
Last week, Emanuel toured the renovated lobby and dusty guts of the Old Main Post Office and touted the building as an ideal site for Amazon because of its “unique” access to “five transportation choices.”
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has said the city plans to submit as many as six sites and leave it to Amazon to choose the one that best fits its needs.
Hopkins has called the multiple-site strategy a mistake that will only make Amazon’s job more difficult and, ultimately, weaken the city’s chances of winning the Amazon sweepstakes.
“We should look at which of the six potential sites really has the most to offer based on the criteria they have stated are priorities for them, then put all of our eggs in that basket and present a proposal to Amazon that focuses on the best that we have. That’s what the other cities are doing to do,” Hopkins said Wednesday.
Pressed to identify that best possible site, Hopkins cited the prime riverfront parcel at 1685 N. Throop currently occupied by the city’s fleet maintenance facility that developer Sterling Bay has agreed to purchase from the city for $104.7 million or $133.53 per square foot.
“It’s right off the Kennedy. It’s near the Metra station. It’s close to the CTA. And it’s got all the potential for the type of development that Amazon is looking for,” Hopkins said. “Plus, it’s on the river and the Amazon workforce is known to be a young, healthy workforce that likes to recreate. So, you’ve got the 606 trail right there. You’ve got the river for kayaking. You’ve got open space. It really has everything they’re looking for. It lends itself to the Amazon culture.”