Charleston is sitting out Amazon’s HQ2 search, but some South Carolina cities jump in

The Post & Courier
Thad Moore
October 23, 2017

That line of reasoning is one of the reasons Charleston decided to sit out the Amazon feeding frenzy, according to David Ginn, chief executive of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which markets the local area as a destination for expanding businesses. In a statement, Ginn cited the project’s “potential to overwhelm what we love about Charleston.”

It also took a pass because the region doesn’t meet the company’s minimum requirements, Ginn said. It doesn’t have the population or the international flights. It doesn’t have the transit system. And it doesn’t have the capacity for an 8 million-square-foot campus.

But he says Amazon’s list of qualifications gives a boost to the economic-development group’s calls for a sophisticated transit system, infrastructure development, affordable housing and job training geared toward companies’ needs.

Read the full Post and Courier story here…


Full Charleston Regional Development Alliance statement …

Amazon recently released to the public an RFP for its second corporate headquarters location (HQ2) with a response deadline of Oct. 19, 2017. After careful consideration and discussion with the region’s public- and private-sector leaders, we decided together not to pursue Amazon’s HQ2.

Our three-county Charleston region is a highly competitive business location as proven by recent investments by Boeing, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Volvo Car, Blackbaud, and other multinational companies. However, our region does not meet the basic selection requirements for HQ2:

  • A metro area population of at least 1 million people – with a labor pool able to supply 50,000 highly skilled professionals in an accelerated timeframe
  • An international airport – with daily nonstop flights to Seattle, the San Francisco/Bay Area, and the world’s major markets
  • Access to mass transit – direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, and bus routes at the proposed site
  • A 100-acre urban/suburban site – development prepped with capacity to build 8 million square feet “expeditiously”

While HQ2 would be out of scale with our community (the equivalent of 7 Boeings or 38 Blackbauds) and could potentially overwhelm what we love about living here, there’s much to learn from Amazon’s very public process. The company’s selection criteria outline what it takes to be competitive in today’s global environment and the changing landscape of economic development. The HQ2 “wish list” also validates the recommendations put forth in the One Region Global Competitiveness Strategy.

In summary, Amazon and other advanced industry companies are requiring:

Talent – the ability to produce, attract and retain skilled technical talent in combination with a strong research university system

Modern infrastructure – an efficient highway system, an international airport, and high-speed broadband that provide connectivity and access to domestic and global markets

Quality of place, livability & sustainability – an overall high quality of life with great educational and recreational opportunities; a commitment to environmental sustainability; and modern transportation options including bike lanes, trams, bus rapid transit, etc.

Culture & diversity – a compatible community and cultural fit, including a diverse population and a stable and consistent business climate

Through the long-term vision and sustained commitment of our region’s business, academic and government leaders, our community continues to attract companies and talent from around the world. Guided by the One Region Global Competitiveness Strategy, Charleston is successfully competing against much larger markets for projects requiring highly-skilled technical talent. And although we’re not a fit for HQ2, our three-county region remains open for business!

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