Hammond, Gary and Northwest Indiana have submitted bids for Amazon's widely coveted second headquarters, which could invest $5 billion and employ up to 50,000, six-figure employees over the next 15 years.
Hammond, which filed its bid Wednesday evening, pitched the old State Line Generating Plant property on the coast of Lake Michigan. The 77-acre property was a landmark Art Deco coal-fired electrical generating station, which burned for 83 years before being shut down in 2012 and demolished.
"Although I think our chance is minuscule, I didn't feel right about passing up an opportunity like this even with a very small chance of success," Mayor Thomas McDermott said. "It doesn't hurt to try, even though we realize our chances are a long shot."
"It's exciting that Northwest Indiana is presenting itself as worthy for a project like this," she said. "We're continuing to build and continuing to prove ourselves, but we need to dream big. We need to get in the game and tell our story about the Region. Dreaming gets people excited. It's motivating."
Gary took out an ad in the business section of the New York Times to grab Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos's attention and launched a Moveon.org petition that more than 1,000 people have signed.
McDermott supports Gary's bid, but said the prospect of 50,000 high-paying corporate jobs was so tantalizing his city had to take a shot. He said Gary's vacant buildings were a potential advantage because it meant a lot of property would be available for redevelopment.
"As you know, I signed on as a supporter for Gary's bid and I truly hope that they are chosen," McDermott said. "They most likely have a better shot than does Hammond as they have the available space that is required under Amazon's RFP to grow, unlike us here in Hammond. We are landlocked in Hammond, which is a good problem to have. This lack of space in order to grow is one of Hammond's biggest liabilities in our RFP response to Amazon. However, we decided to go forward with our RFP response anyway in the hopes that we are chosen with this amazing opportunity."