Tucson group hopes to attract Amazon's attention with 21-foot Saguaro

Sun Corridor, a development, shipped a 21-foot cactus to Amazon, as cities around North America to try win the company's second headquarters. (KVOA)

Sun Corridor Inc. in Tucson is hoping to get the attention of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by sending him a 21-foot Saguaro cactus.

The Seattle-based tech giant is vying for a new place to build its second corporate headquarters.

Amazon announced last week the request for proposals by interested cities across North America.

Sun Corridor Inc. is working alongside local, regional and state partners to assemble a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP).

“This is a ‘prime’ opportunity,” said David Hutchens, Sun Corridor Inc. chairman and Tucson Electric Power CEO.

Amazon is looking at metropolitan areas with over 1 million people.

The goal is to hire 50,000 full-time employees over the next ten-plus years while investing $5 billion in capital.

"People can nitpick and say you don't have it all but no city is going to have it all. We feel like we are a good fit for Amazon,” said Joe Snell, Sun Corridor Inc. president and CEO.

The prospect of Amazon setting up corporate shop in the Old Pueblo comes with its challenges, such as being able to accommodate direct flights to all of the following cities: Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.

Hutchens said the coalition of entities involved in forming the proposal, would coordinate with the necessary airlines on the issue.

There’s also the question of filling the 50,000 positions. Snell applauded Arizona’s university system, noting it wouldn’t be difficult to find qualified candidates.

"From engineering to accounting -- this is a headquarters operation -- to back-office support to executives so we're going to have the gamut,” Snell said.

Snell couldn’t comment on where in the Tucson area Sun Corridor Inc. is currently considering for a potential building site.

Amazon’s second headquarters requires 8 million square feet of space.

But how does Tucson fare with the competition?

"I think it's going to be difficult. There's going to be a lot of cities competing, larger cities that have larger pools of talent,” said Justin Williams, founder and CEO of Startup Tucson, an organization dedicated to growing new businesses.

Williams worked at Amazon as a software developer for a period after graduating college. This was during the company’s early years of establishing itself in the Pacific Northwest.

Williams is remaining optimistic in Tucson’s efforts to stand out among other cities.

Perhaps it starts with the natural vegetation of Southern Arizona: a Saguaro cactus.

"It takes strategy and it takes strong culture and Amazon has both. And I see our community growing the culture that's necessary and that's what's most exciting,” Williams said. 

The deadline to submit the RFP is October 19.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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