Gary officials affirmed their intention to respond to the Amazon bid touting the city and Northwest Indiana as the perfect location for a second corporate headquarters known as HQ2. The city has developed a working group that includes the Northwest Indiana Forum, officials from the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, the city’s economic development team, and the consulting firm of SEH, Incorporated. The response is being coordinated with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Gary’s latest move comes as other cities in Indiana and across the country step up efforts to bid for the coveted headquarters, which will generate 50,000 jobs, many of which will be in the technology profession. The deadline for cities to submit bids for Amazon HQ is October 19.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson asserted that the city’s response is much more than a “Hail Mary” pass. Freeman-Wilson stated, “This response combines Gary’s location, the availability of vacant land and transportation assets with Indiana’s favorable business climate and fiscal strength. The region’s proposal is also enhanced by the existence of a commuter rail system that will facilitate travel between Gary and Chicago in approximately 35 minutes.”
Mayor Freeman-Wilson readily acknowledges that Gary is not typically at the top of most site selection lists, but she quickly adds, “That is narrow thinking. The reality is that a Gary location provides the best of many worlds. Gary boasts the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a part of the National Park Service; historic architecture; a Big 10 university; and affordable real estate. At the same time, northwest Indiana has the population, cultural diversity and range of communities to meet the tangible and intangible needs of Amazon as a company and as an employer. We also have an added feature. We give Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos an opportunity to grow his world class organization while playing a vital role in the transformation of a community and region.”
Finally, Indiana has a pro-business climate that puts the State in a class by itself. Heather Ennis, Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Indiana Forum stated, “I believe in Northwest Indiana—our physical assets, our people, and our business climate. When you couple these features with our proximity to Chicago, we will continue to attract meaningful business investment. I am proud to be a part of this team to move the region forward. We welcome opportunities like Amazon and many others that might want to be a part of the bright future of Northwest Indiana.”
The city’s decision to respond to the RFP comes after a number of companies such as HMD Trucking, T & B Tube, Edsal Manufacturing and Superior Truss & Panel have announced and/or implemented plans to move to Gary. It also comes in anticipation of expansion by existing companies. “We take every opportunity to explain the advantages of a Gary business address,” added Gary Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Bo Kemp. “The city is motivated to welcome new businesses and excited that so many other northwest Indiana leaders have signed on in support of this effort.”
The city announced Oct. 4 the roster of individuals who will make up the Northwest Indiana Amazon Bid Steering Committee. The list includes elected officials, members of the business community and non-profit organizations. They understand that a successful response will be a win for all of Northwest Indiana. Individuals who support Gary’s bid will have an opportunity to voice their sentiments by signing a petition on www.moveon.org. The link to the petition (http://petitions.move-on.org/sign/the-next-amazonh-eadquarters?source=c.fwd&r_by=18800968) can be found on the city’s website and the Team Gary Facebook Page.