Much effort and many dollars are being spent to try to lure Amazon to build its second headquarters in the state of Connecticut. Some city and state leaders believe landing that deal may be a long shot, but it may be a shot worth taking.
Amazon is planning to make a $5 billion investment and bring 50,000 new full-time employees to its desired location. The new headquarters will be called HQ2. There are 238 proposals across North America for Amazon to choose from, according to the company. Proposals have been submitted for Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, Danbury and a joint bid for New Haven and Bridgeport.
"I would say it's akin to the Powerball," Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said. "But you can’t win it if you're not in it, right?"
Boughton is trying to get Amazon's attention with the city spending time and money on conceptualizing, printing and shipping its proposal, as well as creating social media advertising and producing a quirky video sales pitch.
In total, Danbury spent $2,813.28 on its bid for HQ2, according to documents obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. Most of the spending was for promoting the pitch video online and using Facebook location targeting. The mayor had hoped that the clip would be in heavy rotation around Amazon's first headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The mayor even sent Danbury’s Key to the City to Amazon.
"It may not be enough. It may not be what they are looking for and I respect that," Boughton said.
Waterbury, meanwhile, utilized staffers at the city's Development Corporation to formulate and ship the bid cross country with invoices totaling $610.60, according to documents provided through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
New Haven and Bridgeport are pursuing a joint application to Amazon together. Michael Piscitelli, the deputy of New Haven's Economic Development Corporation, said the Elm City's portion of the proposal used prior studies and research and translated to about $2,500 to $5,000 worth of work.
Documents from Bridgeport showed that city paid $8,000 for 3-D renderings.
In addition, Bridgeport officials said shared costs on a video, website and a consulting firm total $64,805 between the two cities.
The state, meanwhile, is supporting HQ2 coming to either Hartford or Stamford.
"Wow. It would be a huge shot in the arm," Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), said "Connecticut is prime and we are ready."
The state-supported proposal includes sites in both greater Hartford and in greater Stamford.
Both metro areas have populations of about a million people. They are close to international airports and have quick access to mass transit and interstate highways. All of those attributes are among the characteristics Amazon desires in its HQ2 location. More of the company's desired criteria can be found here.
"We think these were the very best that we had in the state and also the ones that really met the criteria," Smith said about the greater Hartford and greater Stamford proposals.
According to documents obtained from the DECD, the state paid $5,250 to design the website CTisPrime.com. An additional $3,000 was spent on drone footage and a promotional video narrated by Governor Dannel Malloy. Diagrams for the proposals were $2,000 more. But the renderings for both project sites were the largest expenditure at $30,000. In total, the Hartford and Stamford bids cost the state $40,250.
Smith said the materials can and will be used to attract future business to Connecticut.
"This is an effort I would repeat if we could," Smith said.
Amazon said it will make a decision about HQ2 in 2018.
Bridgeport FOI Documents
DECD FOI Documents
Waterbury FOI Documents