City leaders admitted that it was a long shot from the start. Turns out, it was: Omaha wasn’t included in the 20 finalists Amazon named Thursday as possible locations for its second headquarters.
Economic development types said it was important for Omaha’s name to have been in the mix anyway for a big project like Amazon’s offices, which are expected to employ 50,000 people.
Now Amazon execs will be familiar with Omaha and could look to the city for other projects, said officials with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Of the 238 proposals from across North America, Amazon listed these areas as finalists: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville; Newark; New York City; northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.
The company had said that it wanted a city:
» With at least a million people in the metropolitan area. (Omaha’s is around 930,000.)
» With an international airport. (Eppley Airfield will offer its first international flight — only one — in May.)
» With strong public transit. (Omaha’s public transport options are limited.)
» With an economy that can provide 50,000 workers. (Amazon would have been by far the city’s largest employer; Offutt Air Force Base and CHI Health employed more than 7,500 people each in recent years. And it could be hard to find new workers in a labor market where the unemployment rate is below 3 percent, among the lowest in the country.)
“Obviously, it’s a long shot to get Amazon’s second headquarters, but so what?” said John Boyd, a principal at Boston site-selection firm the Boyd Co. Inc., at the time of Omaha’s bid last year.
Boyd said a bid gave Omaha and Nebraska officials the chance to promote the city, its low cost of doing business and available incentives.