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Erie County to Amazon: Build your new headquarters here

Amazon is looking to build a new $5 billion headquarters, and Erie County is among the first communities – maybe truly the first – to officially proclaim to Amazon: "Build your new headquarters here!"

The Buffalo Niagara region may not be like Seattle, but it could be, said County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo.

"I literally saw it this morning, and I was like, we've got to get on this," he said.

The Legislature unanimously approved his resolution asking Amazon consider the Buffalo Niagara region for its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2. The resolution also asks that the county's development agencies respond to the request for proposals that Amazon issued Thursday morning.

"This would be an absolute game changer for this area," Lorigo said. "I appreciate everybody's support. We do have a lot of stiff competition out nthere, but no place else in North America can offer what we can, which is our people, our hard work and dedication."

Though Buffalo may be considered a long shot in many circles, Lorigo said the idea of bringing Amazon's HQ2 to Buffalo is not terribly far-fetched.

Amazon's RFP calls for "metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people." Though Erie County alone does not meet that threshold, the Buffalo Niagara metropolitan statistical area does.

He also pointed out that Amazon has already invested in a new distribution center in Lancaster and that the county is home to other tech companies, such as Yahoo!, IBM and Solar City.

"We have the Medical Campus," he added, "which is kind of tech."

Amazon center in Lancaster will focus on sorting packages

He also pointed out the area is close to Toronto. It's 45 minutes away from New York City by plane.

If Amazon builds its second headquarters, which Amazon has said will rival the first in size and scope, in the Buffalo region, it would dramatically transform the area. HQ2 is expected to employ as many as 50,000 people, with average annual compensation exceeding $100,000 over the next 10 to 15 years.

The company, which employs more than 380,000 around the world, estimates that its current headquarters has invested an additional $38 billion in Seattle's economy.

Lorigo said Seattle wasn't the city it is now until Amazon showed up. Amazon could be the catalyst that reverses Western New York's brain drain and turns New York into a more business-friendly state. While other bigger cities may argue that are better suited to attract high-tech talent, Lorigo said many of those cities are saturated.

Western New York is a place where a business can really grow, he said.

"Even if we're a long shot, that's our story," he said. "We're the underdog. We should go after this."

Lorigo sent a letter to CEO Jeffrey Bezos on Thursday, stating, "In addition to world famous chicken wings, the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, and great skiing, Western New York is home to over 1 million caring individuals who make up the fabric of our community and we want to be the second home of Amazon."

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