Now that Buffalo and Rochester are out of the running for Amazon’s second headquarters, the two regions should aggressively and publicly join forces on other efforts.
If it takes two or three tries, or 200 or 300 tries, to land business that brings economic vitality it will be worth the effort.
That project might not land the 50,000 jobs the Amazon deal is advertised to bring to its new home but, would anyone turn down 5,000 jobs? Or 2,000? Buffalo, as the mayor said, has nearly $7 billion in economic development underway. Winning the competition would have been wonderful, but plenty more is already in the pipeline.
Competition for Amazon proved tough. The company narrowed its selection to 20 cities in the United States and Canada. Toronto made the list. It is the only Canadian city to make it through to the second round.
The other cities still in contention include New York City, Boston, Austin, Texas and Chicago. They are joined by Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis, and Newark, N.J. Nashville came in at the smallest with 1.83 million people in a 13-county region.
Local officials thought that with Buffalo and Rochester submitting a joint bid, the Western New York region had a chance. Nevertheless, by working together, the cities made a practice run for the future.
Buffalo-Rochester combined provides a population of 2.2 million, putting it in the same category as Pittsburgh. It also means a wider and deeper labor pool, as well as greater academic power, with the University at Buffalo, University at Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, among other institutions.
Both cities have been quietly working together for some time. Those efforts include Mueller Dairy, along with other food, beverage and advanced manufacturing opportunities, according to the head of the Greater Rochester Enterprise. Amazon’s public announcement that the company sought a second home brought that cooperation to the forefront.
Buffalo’s Invest Buffalo Niagara and Greater Rochester Enterprise officials should be credited for thinking outside the box and working jointly. To outsiders, the roughly 60 miles separating the two cities isn’t that far.
Some observers cited Western New York’s shortage of labor but not economic development officials. Amazon company executives said this region had a chance.
Landing a coveted deal to host Amazon’s headquarters, to many, was a long shot. But it was well worth taking.