The Herald News, Wednesday, September 20, 2017 – Page A1
By By Kevin P. O’Connor
Fall River — When Amazon sifts through the pitches for its second headquarters, this city will have a proposal in the pile.
And it is bound to be a big pile, said Ken Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development.
“We’ll submit a proposal to Amazon so we at least have something before them,” Fiola said. “We’ll throw our hat in the ring and see where it takes us. Not doing it would be a disservice to the people of the city.”
Amazon is asking cities and states to make a pitch for its second headquarters, an expansion that Amazon said will involve a $5 billion investment and result in 50,000 new jobs. Those interested must submit applications before Oct. 19. The request from Amazon stated the new headquarters must be in a metro area, close to highways and an international airport, accessible by mass transit and have good internet and a well-educated workforce.
“We think we meet a lot of their stated requirements,” Fiola said. The city is part of the metropolitan market areas for both Providence and Boston, he said. Route 24 and Interstate 195 are right nearby. The area is surrounded by colleges and there is land ready to develop in the technology park and the Riverfront Business Park in Freetown, a half-mile away.
Fall River has a slight edge because it dealt with the company before, but Fiola said he doubts the people who chose the city for its 1-million- square-foot distribution center will be making decisions on the corporate headquarters.
“We have a good working relationship with the Seattle office, but this type of project will be handled at the highest levels at Amazon,” Fiola said. “The good thing is that they already know where Fall River is.”
Amazon said it wants to build a 500,000-square-foot building to start, with plans to expand to 8 million square feet of office space by 2027.
In the Fall River plan, the first site to be developed would be 90 acres in the technology park, near the Amazon distribution center, Fiola said. The Freetown Riverside Business Park would take subsequent expansion. FROED was hired as the negotiating agent for the Freetown business park. It also markets and negotiates the technology park for the city’s Redevelopment Agency, which owns the development.
“This is a national competition, and the competition will be stiff,” Fiola said.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said that city was considering a pitch. Cities all around the country indicated they intend to make a pitch. Those include Austin, Texas, New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Ottawa, Toronto and Washington, D.C., according to published reports. “Amazon will receive hundreds of proposals for siting of its second headquarters,” Fiola said. “But we can meet all of the RFP (Request For Proposal) criteria.
“As they say, every journey starts with a first step.”