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Two interesting stories about related Amazon stories…

• The Wall Street Journal reports on how Amazon has been reaching out to some of the cities that did not make the list of finalists for its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2, telling them why they did not make the cut and offering advice for how they can better attract technology companies.

Detroit, for example, was told that a key problem was the lack of a regional transportation network, plus a lack of technology workers. While the city wasn’t surprised by the rationales, city officials now feel that the Amazon comments may give it the juice to get a mass transit plan approved by voters.

Orlando is responding by “starting a community fund to invest in local technology companies.” And “the Cincinnati Regional Chamber refocused an apprentice program for public high-school students on information-technology firms, to address Amazon’s criticism that the city didn’t have enough homegrown tech talent.”

• The New York Times reports that as Amazon officials visit the cities that made the finalist list of HQ@ locations, they did something that surprised local officials: “Quiz them on how, if Amazon chooses to settle there, the company could avoid the problems it confronts in Seattle, the only hometown it has ever known.

“If Amazon moves in, bringing up to 50,000 high-paying jobs to town over time, how would the officials deal with traffic on its roads? And how would the company’s tax dollars contribute to the creation of affordable housing in the region?”

Local officials, the story says, “did not anticipate Amazon’s interest in how to tackle some of the troubles that have turned it into a polarizing symbol of Seattle’s booming economy. The e-commerce giant is celebrated by many in Seattle for being the city’s biggest employer and adding tremendous wealth to the area. But it is villainized by others for bringing too much change, too quickly.”

One example: “In Denver, Amazon and local officials talked at length about public transit options and the creation of bike lanes … They even discussed the possibility of Amazon financing a new light-rail station for its system, though no commitments were made.”
KC's View:
I find this fascinating. Not only is Amazon aware of its Seattle problems and trying not to repeat them - though it probably will be tough to avoid housing prices going through the roof.

I also like the idea that Amazon essentially is advising cities about how to be more attractive to tech companies … and not just to Amazon. It is just like business - cities that are mired in old ways of doing things and are not re-engineering themselves for the future will find themselves left behind by cities that do.