St. Louis ‘thirsty’ to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to the Midwest

Posted on 14 November 2017 by Ian Schrauth

Chancellor Pittman helps write one of 238 proposals to host company’s new headquarters

 

By: Stephen Buechter
Staff Writer

 

St. Louis is a strong contender for Amazon’s second headquarters, according to STLCC’s own Chancellor Jeff Pittman. The college became personally involved when Pittman was asked by the St. Louis Mayor’s office and St. Louis partnerships to assist in the creation of a proposal to Amazon to bring HQ2 to the Midwest.amazonStLouis

Pittman was asked on Sept. 6 to work with the St. Louis area education system to write part of the proposal focusing on job growth and education.  While Pittman himself worked on a small subcommittee of only eight to ten people, the full team was around 100.

According to Pittman, he was selected for the role due to STLCC’s reputation for producing graduates who are prepared for the workforce and history of strategic alignment with potential business partners.

Pittman said that the St. Louis area has a large variety of educational institutions for its size, including trade schools, community colleges and multiple well-known four-year colleges featuring a wide range of subjects.

“The thing that struck me as I was putting together this piece of it was just how diverse we are with offerings,” said Pittman.

Pittman said he saw opportunities for STLCC to create connections with Amazon to make the potential headquarters even more appealing for students. Similar successful programs already exist, including Launch Code and a Boeing pre-employment program at Florrissant Valley.

“I think Amazon would look for creative solutions that the St. Louis region has. How well we work with area business and industry is probably one of the strongest points that will be made in that proposal,” said Pittman.

Political science professor John Messmer said that he believed the St. Louis area is “slightly above average” in relation to having quality technical schooling available in the area, a feature that could be useful to Amazon.

“I find it hard to believe that [the proposal] wouldn’t tout the fact that we do have major institutions of higher education beginning with Wash U, but also that we have a great technical college and community college system,” said Messmer.

Messmer said he’s heard speculations that, due to the presence of Amazon’s first headquarters in Seattle, there will be strong consideration for an HQ2 in the Midwest or East Coast.  And according to Messmer, St. Louis is “thirsty” for the opportunity.

“I think one of the advantages we might have is that we’re desperate,” said Messmer. “I think the more the city is desperate, the more they’re able to bend over backwards…They go to Denver, they go to Chicago, they go to Dallas, Fort Worth, they’re just one of many giants in those communities. They come here, they automatically become one of the big boys.”

Lindenwood University Professor Rik Hafer said that STLCC students would be very likely to benefit from the number of jobs a new Amazon headquarters would create, including fields like business analytics, accounting, and even culinary arts.

“Each and everyone of those fields are being served by St. Louis community college,” said Hafer.

Hafer, who is director of Lindenwood’s Center for Economics and the Environment and husband of Meramec’s  professor Gail Hafer, also said that St. Louis’s central location could be a point in its favor. St. Louis is a major transportation hub, accessible by rail, truck and water, and its location makes it easy to get to any other part of the country.

Pittman also cited an overall well-developed and high-quality system of infrastructure as a benefit for St. Louis.

According to Amazon, 238 proposals have been received from cities and regions across North America. Currently the company has not yet announced any leanings toward any location for its new headquarters.

Their website states that they plan on investing 5 million dollars for construction in HQ2’s new home city, and the new structure will create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. According to Pittman, this could mean big things for the community.

“The alignments that they create and all the other types of businesses that would come up around that would be amazing,” said Pittman.

 

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