Everyone’s talking about it. Every city wants it. Yes, it’s Amazon HQ2, the most-talked-about second corporate headquarters in US history.
Amazon’s requirements include elements that appear to make New Orleans a viable option. A metro area with more than 1 million people? Check. We’re at almost 1.3 million as of 2016. A stable and business friendly environment? Check. You couldn’t always say this, but the past few years have made it clear that the city’s administration has turned a new leaf regarding its attitude towards business. Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent? Check. We’ve got everything from the desirable urban neighborhoods of uptown and lakeview to the nearby suburban areas on the east and west bank, plus the far suburbs across the lake for those future Amazon employees who want a little more breathing room. Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options? Check. While the biggest ideas may not always pan out, we certainly have a history of dreaming big and covering everything from redevelopment of historic sites to bold new buildings.
Beyond the core requirements, there are the intangibles that make New Orleans especially appealing. We’re a tourist mecca for a reason. People love to visit here. Despite not being a particularly large city, we have a dense urban core that would give Amazon employees plenty to do in a fairly short distance without the crush of a major city. Our art, culture, and history would be a worthwhile addition to any corporate culture. And tourists flocking to the city by the millions each year would be coming to a city that would be known worldwide as an Amazon city.
With the 200+ cities competing for Amazon’s attention, there are sure to be cities with deep pockets, better suburbs, lower crime, and more educated workforces. But can any other city truly give Amazon not only charm and culture by the boatload, but simultaneously the ability to dominate the local landscape and make New Orleans into a town as associated with Amazon as Bentonville Arkansas is with Wal-Mart, or Rochester New York was with Kodak?
Time will tell, but if Amazon’s decision makers are bold, New Orleans is quite possibly the perfect choice.