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Lessons aplenty as Amazon’s HQ2 sparks bidding war among US cities

By Alec Hogg

We got a reminder of the real world last week when mushrooming Amazon.com said it is looking for a second North American headquarters to mirror its Seattle home. Amazon will invest $5bn in HQ2, a 750,000 sq/m complex (seven Sandton City’s) to house 50,000 staff earning an average of $100,000 a year.

Fully aware of HQ2’s transformative potential, Amazon has issued a formal request for bids from cities wanting to host it. For starters the city must have at least 1m people and good universities; plus an international airport; strong cell phone coverage and a fibre optic broadband network.

Perhaps most importantly, cities must detail financial incentives on land, rates and even relocation packages. Although they have until October 19 to submit bids within hours, Dallas, Houston, Toronto, Vancouver, Kansas City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St Louis, Miami and Chicago all stated publicly they will be bidding.

South African cities are starting to enjoy benefits from competitive politics. But when it comes to attracting job-creating companies, there’s much to be learnt from the North Americans.

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