It’s not the news Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., wanted to hear.
Of 238 proposals, the Lehigh Valley did not make the list of 20 finalists that Seattle-based Amazon is considering for HQ2, its second headquarters.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed that we didn’t make the short list,” Cunningham said. “But, we knew going in that we were going to be wrestling a little over our weight class. It’s tough when you’re competing against the whole country.”
He’s still encouraged, however, about two of the metropolitan areas that did make the cut. Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., are within about an hour’s drive of the Lehigh Valley.
“If Philadelphia, or even Newark, were to get it, that would benefit the Lehigh Valley,” he said. “It wouldn’t be as good as having it here, but it would be good for us.”
Overall, Cunningham said the process of trying to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to the region was a great learning process.
“We benefited from going through it,” he said.
It was an opportunity to analyze the strengths of the Lehigh Valley market and the cost-effectiveness of the market to businesses and their employees which would locate here.
Cunningham also noted that Amazon still has a very strong presence in the Lehigh Valley with about 2.5 million square feet of warehouse space and just under 3,000 employees in the region.
He said that presence could bolster the efforts of nearby Philadelphia and Newark.
Amazon expects to make a decision on its HQ2 location this year. Here is the list of 20 metropolitan areas, in alphabetical order, which made the final cut to be considered for the new headquarters:
- Austin, Texas.
- Columbus, Ohio.
- Los Angeles.
- Montgomery County, Md.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Newark, N.J.
- New York City.
- Northern Virginia.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Washington, D.C.