It's official: the Buffalo-Rochester Metro Corridor has submitted its bid for online commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon's planned second North American headquarters, known as HQ2. This region is pitching its lower cost of living, workforce and readiness to move the company into the region. But it's up against fierce competition including three other bids from within New York State.
Members of the team that put together and submitted the Buffalo-Rochester bid will not provide details, including locations where they'd like to see Amazon build its HQ2. The selling points, however, include an existing infrastructure, which once handled an industrial base, that is now ready to bring in a new venture such as Amazon.
"Because of going through the painful process of the legacy industries we've had in both of our markets leaving, we've got an infrastructure that's designed for a lot more commerce and people that we have," said Thomas Kucharski, president and CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara. "Ramping up in a corridor that is on its way back will be much easier, much more cost-effective and will accomplish all the things they're looking for."
In a joint statement released by Invest Buffalo Niagara and Greater Rochester Enterprise, team members call their bid submission "extremely sophisticated and compelling." A video prepared for the pitch by Pegula Sports and Entertainment calls Buffalo and Rochester "Cities of Innovation" while calling the region "A Convergence Point."
Kucharski suggests the bid, though, leaves out gimmicks and slickness that, as they learned through their research of Amazon's business culture, was not wanted.
'We know that while they are a visionary, somewhat eclectic kind of management and company direction, they are sticklers for frugality and sustainability in basic tenets of their business, and the way they do things," he said.
New York State is backing the Buffalo-Rochester bid with the promise of tax incentives for Amazon. However, the Cuomo Administration is promising the same perks for three other bids within the Empire State: Syracuse-Utica-Mohawk Valley, Albany-Capitol Region and New York City-Long Island-Mid Hudson.
Kucharski believes even if this region doesn't ultimately win the Amazon derby, getting through to the next round will raise the corridor's stature and give other major companies more reason to consider Buffalo-Rochester.
Helping its own cause, he told WBFO, is the region's new sense of unity and trajectory.
"That's progress, in and of itself," he said. "If you think about where we've been in the last 20 years, from everybody fighting with each other and no vision and no plan, to not only sticking ourselves out there and back it up with effort and results, but now banding together and saying let's think big."
Amazon is expected to make a decision some time next year. Kucharski does not know what timeline the company may have but he says the Buffalo-Rochester team is prepared to act if follow-up information is requested or if Amazon officials wish to visit the region.
"We're not really waiting, we're anticipating," he said.