– Wayne Gretzky
Game on! Amazon’s quest to identify a city/region for its HQ2 – second headquarters – is in full swing. More than 238 cities and states submitted their best “shot” at landing Amazon’s $5 billion investment and creation of 50,000 quality jobs. What city or state wouldn’t want to be home to one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world? And of course, in typical Amazon style, they “disrupted” the economic development world by making their request an open competition, saying, “Tell us why your city and state should be the next home for Amazon HQ2?”
Many will ask, “Why would Albuquerque and New Mexico even waste its time responding to such a request?” They’ll follow up with “We don’t stand a chance!”
My question is: why not?
Our state met the benchmark requirements set by Amazon for labor force, access to the “global information highway” and regional population. And don’t forget we’re home to three of the most technologically advanced national laboratories in the world: Sandia, Los Alamos and the Air Force Research Labs. We have world-class higher education and research institutions like the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech; a productive workforce; the workforce training muscle of Central New Mexico Community College; a burgeoning biotechnology and innovation ecosystem; powerful economic development incentives like LEDA and JTIP; a culture of innovation and creativity in science, the arts and humanities; 310 days of sunshine a year; fantastic weather; few natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes; a common border with Mexico that includes a thriving borderplex; and a purpose-built spaceport that could be home to Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ and Amazon’s venture into space commercialization.
New Mexico has opportunities not just for Amazon but any number of other companies in the United States looking for the right place to locate and grow.
Amazon asked us to tell them what we have now and how we are going to get where we’re going in the future.
We presented our undeniable strengths and acknowledged our weaknesses. We are who we are and we should not make excuses. We should focus on the opportunities inherent in a world that is changing faster than ever with new technologies, new innovations and new collaborations.
Responding to a global competition to land Amazon HQ2 has presented the opportunity for New Mexico and our city to create a marketing tool that can be used for any number of future business recruitments. Most of all, it should encourage us, New Mexican citizens, to recognize we have something unique to offer, and it should empower us to decide who we are and what we want to be. We can and do compete in a global market. And besides, who knows what additional business opportunities Amazon might see for Albuquerque and New Mexico as a result of our proposal?
I am sure the skeptics and naysayers are all lining up to say “I told you so!” But New Mexico’s response to the Amazon HQ2 competition is for those of us who believe we deserve a seat at the table and the only way to get in the game is to show up. Well, Albuquerque and our state gave it a shot. Let’s see what happens next!