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Business

Chicago urges Amazon: 'Take another look'

Mayor, governor write to company after it drops N.Y. plan

Detroit Free Press/MCT

“If you’re looking for a partner in the public sector, Chicago can stand and deliver,” Rahm Emanuel, the city’s mayor, wrote to Amazon.com.
Detroit Free Press/MCT “If you’re looking for a partner in the public sector, Chicago can stand and deliver,” Rahm Emanuel, the city’s mayor, wrote to Amazon.com.

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker sent a joint letter to Amazon.com on Thursday, asking it to reconsider Chicago after the online behemoth announced it wouldn’t locate a 25,000-job headquarters in New York City.

The two reached out despite Amazon’s statement that it will not search for a new location. Instead, it plans to grow other tech hubs and offices, one of which is in Chicago.

Emanuel told the Tribune that the city and state are ready to partner with Amazon.

“We take care of our business. We make a pledge, we keep our pledges,” he said. “If you’re looking for a partner in the public sector, Chicago can stand and deliver.”

The one-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune, touted Chicago’s “robust, diverse and talented workforce,” globally connected business community, transportation system and universities.

It mentioned tech hub 1871, and updates to O’Hare International Airport and Chicago’s public transit system.

It also noted the “substantial progress” that has been made toward the launch of Related Midwest’s 62-acre planned development in the South Loop along the river, called the 78.

Members of Amazon’s HQ2 site selection team made a return visit to the site, the Tribune reported last year, and the letter from Emanuel and Pritzker noted that tax increment financing for the site is expected to be approved this spring.

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“You should take another look at Chicago,” the letter said. “We will be happy to bring you back.”

Amazon said Thursday it will continue to build offices in Arlington, Va., and Nashville, Tenn. It also plans to continue growing its 17 tech hubs, one of which is in Chicago.

Since announcing plans to locate in New York City, the company has received backlash from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the tax incentives Amazon was promised and the company’s stance on unions.

The company already employs more than 12,000 people in Illinois. They work at fulfillment centers, campus pick-up locations, the research-and-development tech hub, and other sites. Of those employees, about 300 work in the Chicago tech hub.

The company doesn’t know yet where the growth that was supposed to happen in New York City will move to, Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Smith said in an email Thursday.

“It will be organic,” she wrote.

The e-commerce giant announced in November it would split its second headquarters between New York’s Long Island City neighborhood and Northern Virginia. The announcement ended a yearlong, high-stakes competition to win thousands of high-paying tech jobs, in which Chicago was among 20 finalists.

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