I already wrote a bit here about how cities could have benefitted from the Amazon process even without winning it. I expanded on that theme in an article for the Atlantic, “Cities That Lost Amazon’s HQ2 Contest Can Still End Up Ahead.” Here’s an excerpt:
Oklahoma City is not the only place that’s won for losing. New York City was one of five finalists to host the 2012 Summer Olympics that ultimately went to London. But New York benefitted enormously from that disappointment. To prepare the city for the Olympics, local government proposed several major civic improvements that went forward anyway, including the redevelopment of the Far West Side of Manhattan. This required changes such as rezoning the area for high-rise development and construction of an extension of the 7-train.
Dan Doctoroff, who spearheaded New York’s Olympic bid and served as deputy mayor under Michael Bloomberg, wrote in his book Greater Than Ever, “I don’t think the Hudson yards rezoning, the subway extension, and all the other investment would have happened if the Olympic catalyst and its strict timetable…hadn’t existed.” Doctoroff’s team also focused attention on the East River waterfront, which helped catalyze development in Long Island City. Yes, Long Island City, where Amazon is now locating its New York HQ2. So in a sense there’s a connection between New York losing the 2012 Olympics and winning the HQ2 competition.
The pressures of an Olympics bid created the conditions under which far-sighted leaders could create and push through changes faster than would otherwise have been possible. And guess what? There’s already evidence that the just-concluded HQ2 competition had the same effect.
The process helped local leaders in Indianapolis, one of Amazon’s 20 finalist cities, accelerate changes in their approach to economic development. Michael Huber, CEO of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, told me that “Amazon’s process forced us to throw out the traditional rule book for attracting business investment and talent—traditionally a cost- and incentive-focused process. Their process forced us to think more creatively about human capital and the workforce of the future. We used the Amazon process to add a sense of urgency to the new tools and partnerships (workforce/talent, land use, transit) we are developing as a region.”
Click through to read the whole thing.