James: KC didn’t get Amazon’s HQ2 but ‘did get something’

Amazon won’t construct its second headquarters in Kansas City, but that’s OK, the city’s mayor said Wednesday. 

“We didn’t get Amazon, and that’s fine by me,” Mayor Sly James said. “But, we did get something out of it.” 

During a panel Wednesday at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s 10th annual State of Entrepreneurship event in Kansas City, James said the city learned from the Amazon bidding process, which he said ended up being a big data grab by one of the world’s largest companies. 

“When we brought all the people together, we brought together a coalition of people who were thinking outside the box,” James said. 

James said the process of submitting a bid to Amazon allowed Kansas City to find weaknesses in its workforce and entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

One of the biggest weaknesses that emerged: not having a workforce that would satisfy companies such as Amazon. 

Despite some hesitation from the public about entering the playing field, James said there was more than enough support to aim for the much-touted second headquarters, or HQ2. 

“For as many people saying we shouldn’t have done it, 50 times as many people were saying we should,” James said of vying for the headquarters. 

Amazon ended up choosing Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, and Long Island City, a neighborhood in New York, as the sites for its second headquarters. The retailer has since bailed on the Long Island City location.

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