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Rochester and Buffalo join forces in application for new Amazon HQ

Rochester and Buffalo are hoping that two cities are better than one, when it comes to trying to attract major investment from the online behemoth Amazon.

In September, the company said it needed to build a second corporate headquarters, a project that would see the company spend more than $5 billion and hire as many as 50,000 employees.

A number of communities across the country are vying for that new Amazon facility, and Rochester officials already said they are interested, as did people in Buffalo.

But now, Invest Buffalo Niagara, an economic development organization representing 8 counties in that region, and Greater Rochester Enterprise, which covers nine counties in the Rochester area and the Finger Lakes, have announced a joint collaboration.

“In assessing the full scope of the Amazon HQ2 RFP opportunity, it was apparent that by linking our efforts, the combined Buffalo Rochester Metro Corridor can offer a proposal that is both compelling and extremely competitive,” said InBN President and CEO Tom Kucharski and GRE Interim President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt. “With over 2.2 million people, a very talented labor pool, and an extremely livablecommunity, our organizations are excited to join forces in attempting to draw the interest of Amazon.”

“This collaboration demonstrates the undeniable connectivity that already exists between our two great communities,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “In addition to several excellent site options and a low-cost operating environment, we believe that it is our people, highly-skilled workforce, world-class colleges and universities, and strong regional competency in radio-frequency identification (RFID), sustainable packaging, flight controls, drone technology, high-performance computing, software development, and data analytics that will help our proposal stand out.”

The statement from the two organizations says the proposal will feature “dynamic site locations” although the local officials are not mentioning any specific potential spots they are recommending for an Amazon headquarters right now.

RIT President David Munson says that university has "connections with the company that are strong and deep—more than 300 alumni who work for Amazon, plus nearly 200 students who have worked there through our co-op program."

Moody’s Analytics, which is a division of Moody’s Corporation, has ranked metro areas around the country based on what Amazon is looking for. And that survey ranks Rochester the fourth most desirable spot for Amazon. The criteria include business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life and transportation.

Moody’s says that “ Rochester boasts many of the qualities that Amazon seeks.” But it also calls the metro “an extreme long shot,” with the challenge of  finding up to 50,000 workers to fill the jobs created by Amazon, and Moody’s notes that “one would have to drive more than four hours to find an airport with direct flights to Amazon’s home base of Seattle.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.