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10/6/2017 3:46:00 PM
Northwest Indiana launches Amazon bid teams

Post-Tribune

Business leaders and public and union officials from Hammond to South Bend are teaming up to pitch Northwest Indiana's advantages in a bid for Amazon's second headquarters.

The Northwest Indiana Forum is organizing its pitch as well as the city of Gary.

The Forum's steering committee has 65 members including Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.; State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Randy Palmateer, Business Manager of the Northwest Indiana Buildings & Construction Trades Council; Majestic Star Casino CEO Peter Ligouri; and NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris.

Gary has put together its own working group that includes representatives from the Northwest Indiana Forum, the Northern Indiana Public Service Co., the city's economic development team, and consulting firm SEH, Incorporated. The response is being coordinated with the Indiana Economic Development Corp

More than 100 cities across the United States have rushed to pitch themselves after Amazon announced in September that it's looking for a second North American headquarters. The deadline for local and state governments to submit their proposals to Amazon is Oct. 19.

The new headquarters would bring an estimated 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment.

Amazon's preference is to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people, but it has said it would consider urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.

Gary made a splash with an September ad in the New York Times replete with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's phone number. Freeman-Wilson said that the city's response is much more than a "Hail Mary" pass.

"This response combines Gary's location, the availability of vacant land and transportation assets with Indiana's favorable business climate and fiscal strength," Freeman-Wilson said in a statement. "The region's proposal is also enhanced by the existence of a commuter rail system that will facilitate travel between Gary and Chicago in approximately 35 minutes."

Forum CEO Heather Ennis said the state's pro-business climate is an asset.

"I believe in Northwest Indiana — our physical assets, our people, and our business climate. When you couple these features with our proximity to Chicago, we will continue to attract meaningful business investment," Ennis said in a statement. "I am proud to be a part of this team to move the region forward. We welcome opportunities like Amazon and many others that might want to be a part of the bright future of Northwest Indiana."

The Lake County Council is considering a resolution to support a bid to lure Amazon to Northwest Indiana. The council will vote on the non-binding measure on Tuesday.

"Amazon coming to this region would be a huge boost," said Councilman Jamal Washington, D-Merrillville.

Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said he'd be concerned that if Amazon came to the county, the company would likely seek huge tax breaks and potentially only create low-wage jobs.

"I do question that," Bilski said.

Bilski said he saw both pros and cons with Amazon locating a facility in the Region.

"I think it has a lot of pros," Washington said.

Reporter Craig Lyons contributed to this report.

Related Stories:
• Lake County Council members debate the cost of an Amazon bid
• Northwest Indiana making a Regionwide bid for Amazon's second headquarters
• River Ridge partnering with Louisville on Amazon HQ2 application
• OPINION: Amazon's amazing indecent proposal
• OPINION: The lessons of Amazon and Indianapolis
• Gary, Hammond, Northwest Indiana make bids for Amazon's second headquarters, up to 50,000 jobs
• Louisville metro area submits 'strong' application for Amazon headquarters

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