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Central Pennsylvania weighs bid for Amazon’s second headquarters

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Area leaders say they are considering a bid for the proposed second headquarters of Amazon, potentially joining a competition among what could be hundreds of competitors nationwide.

Amazon's proposed "HQ2" would bring about 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact to the community where it ultimately decides to locate. Its current headquarters are in Seattle.

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce says it still has not decided whether it will lead the bid, but is researching the idea. It issued the following statement Monday to FOX43:

"Many South Central and Central PA economic development partners, including the Chamber & CREDC and Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority have spent a great deal of time reviewing and dissecting the Amazon RFP.  Together, we have begun pulling workforce data and evaluating site selection criteria.  If a South Central PA proposal is submitted, everyone wants it to be a competitive proposal.  This type of project is a game changer for any region with huge employment opportunities for executives, managers, software engineers, attorneys, accountants and technical/administrative jobs. If our evaluations prove our region is competitive, we will put our best effort forward with a carefully prepared proposal."

Bid supporters say the area has the educated workforce, quality of life and low cost of living Amazon covets for its potential second headquarters.

"It's just exactly the kind of employer that we'd be looking for, and I think would a great shot in the arm for central Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania as a whole, but also it would be a tremendous boon for Amazon," said Frank Lynch, who serves on the Susquehanna Township Board of Commissioners and the Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development are also monitoring the situation, saying they want to work with state lawmakers on some sort of package of financial incentives to lure Amazon to the Keystone State.

"We're going to talk to the legislature and work with the legislature on something that really makes sense and gets us at least on the shortlist with Amazon," Dennis Davin, secretary of the DCED, said.

Just in Pennsylvania, bids are expected to come from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley, to name a few, but this is not a situation in which competing bids from the same state are expected to have a negative impact on each other.

"In a typical situation, that probably wouldn't be good," Davin said. "This is not a typical situation because Amazon essentially put an ad in the paper, [saying] 'We're going to put 50,000 new positions in an area; give us your best proposal.'"

Although many expect the headquarters to go to a larger community, locating in central Pennsylvania would be an outside-the-box solution to a company that prides itself on innovation and outside-the-box thinking, Lynch said.

Years ago, people thought "why would you ever go Christmas shopping on the Internet?" Lynch asked. "This is the kind of thinking that led to the success of Amazon and made them one of the largest companies in the world. Why would you think of Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania? Because it has some things that people overlook or never even thought of."

Bids are due to Amazon by October 19, and the company is expected to make a decision in 2018, with hopes of construction beginning in 2019.