Richard Schuen has no trouble listing the merits of Columbus: an educated workforce, a magnet for high-tech start-ups and an ideal location in the center of the state.
And these merits, he said, are why Amazon would be making wise choice by locating its second headquarters here.
Schuen, founding principal of the greater Columbus region of Colliers International, isn’t the only Midwest-based CRE pro who thinks that his city would be a good fit for the much-desired HQ2, the second headquarters facility that Amazon plans to open.
Amazon has received 238 proposals for its second headquarters, and is busy evaluating them now. Midwest cities, including Chicago – which has a made a major push for the facility – are longshots for the new headquarters building. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to land the retail giant.
Cities from Kansas City to Cincinnati and Indianapolis have all submitted formal proposals to Amazon. And though Atlanta seems to be emerging as the favorite for HQ2, this doesn’t mean that these Midwestern metropolises are giving up hope.
Schuen, for instance, points to the highly educated workforce available to Columbus businesses. As he points out, more than 50 colleges and universities serve the greater Columbus region. About 150,000 college students call the Columbus area home each year.
That gives Amazon, or any other company that locates in Columbus, access to a highly desirable labor force.
“When companies are relocating anywhere, one of the first questions they ask is ‘How do I recruit and retrain the best and the brightest?'” Schuen said. “Having that worforce is a competitive advantage for us. All the stats show that Columbus is the hottest city east of the Mississippi for job growth and GDP growth.”
Columbus also won a $50 million Smart City grant that the city is using to further develop its mass-transit systems and attract tech companies.
“We are talking about Amazon here, but Columbus is looking at how it can attract anyone from a start-up to a major company like Amazon. The SMart City money gives the city the ability to reinvest back into tech,” Schuen said.