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Berry extolls virtues of ABQ to Amazon chief

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has written a letter to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos extolling the virtues of the city for the retail giant’s second headquarters.

Amazon announced last week it was in the hunt for a city to host a second headquarters that it said would be at least as large as its current home in Seattle. The company said the new headquarters ultimately could house as many as 50,000 workers.

It listed a string of requirements for its second home, saying it must: be a metro area with more than 1 million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. That’s about the same size as its current home in Seattle, which has 33 buildings and 23 restaurants and houses 40,000 employees.

Though the Albuquerque metro area at about 900,000 people is under Amazon’s 1 million threshold, Berry last week said Albuquerque would definitely put in a bid. Noting that Bezos was born in Albuquerque, Berry issued a call for the tech wizard: “Jeff, come home,” Berry said in an interview with the Journal. “We’d love to have you.”

In his letter dated Monday and posted on Twitter, Berry touted the city’s workforce, noting it has more residents per capita with doctorate degrees than any other city in the nation, thanks largely to Sandia National Laboratories, the Air Force Research Laboratory and nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory. And he listed a number of efforts intended to train a “tech-savvy workforce.”

“Major established businesses such as Facebook, Intel and fast-growing startups such as Descartes Labs and RS21 have discovered a workforce that is hungry for world-class career opportunities and ready to step up to challenges and opportunities,” he wrote.

Albuquerque’s population diversity, affordability and quality of life also figure prominently in the mayor’s pitch. “Even during the winter months, residents and visitors alike have the ability to ski in the morning, golf, bike or hike in the afternoon and enjoy world-class rooftop al fresco dining in the evening,” the letter states.

The mayor also pitched the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus project along Central Avenue and the New Mexico Rail Runner as assets and suggested the old Albuquerque Rail Yards “could be transformed into one of the nation’s coolest places to work.”