Amazon has narrowed their list of finalists for their new headquarters down to 20 cities and Indianapolis is one of them.What prompted me to do this piece is to illustrate how effective writing needs to be done in promoting economic growth for a city. I was inspired by Indianapolis Star “business” writer James Briggs and his write up “Indianapolis neighborhoods aren’t ready for Amazon”. His thesis is based upon commercial land use that Amazon would need and housing prices skyrocketing because of new employees coming to Indianapolis.
If people have ever talked to me about Indianapolis and it’s media, they know I share no love loss for their ever-growing “Social Justice Warrior” philosophy. The Indianapolis Star is no different. Their progressive tilt bleeds into everything. The piece above proves just that. Newspapers have a major responsibility in not only tackling issues that need addressed, but also promote their city. If you’re a businessman passing through and happen to pick up the Indy Star paper and read this article, you would instantly sense defeatism mixed in with no grasp of economics. Fear of commercial space and rising home prices from natural business growth is a luxury worry.
So lets look at why Amazon SHOULD choose Indianapolis and gleam some of my insight from talking to those in “the know” and what has transpired in the past few months. Yes, good ol’ reporting as a newspaper would call it.
Amazon the business
Amazon is no dummy. While their average consumer is worried about the next deal on kitchen utensils that will be discounted on the site or local government officials planning their next photo-op of a business expansion they had no hand in, Amazon is wondering about what their new headquarters will look like in 2030. My sources have told me that multiple locations have been looked at in Indianapolis, not for just one centralized location, but multiple campuses. Everything is in the mix. The Indianapolis Star article above only fixates on downtown and its geographical limitations.
“Infrastructure” is the catchy nuanced word for 2018. So I’ll dabble in it a little deeper than the reporters at the Indy Star have.
Indianapolis and the surrounding area is very car friendly. GASP! Yes, while the roads are “rough” in certain spots, getting around Indianapolis is easy which is one reason people are drawn to it. Sit in downtown and you can pick several major highways that will lead you in every direction either to a nice suburban life or wide open farm fields surrounding your house in just under 45 minutes. Compare that to the other finalists on the list where sitting in your car for 45 minutes in Chicago gives you better odds of getting car jacked or in D.C. where it will lead you to some slimy lobbyist. Oops, I may have just increased Washington D.C.’s chances. The State of Indiana is in position to upgrade major highways around Indianapolis because their finances are in order. One example is the coming downtown I-70/I-65 expansion that will probably easily approach the $300 Million mark.
Above I mentioned some of my sources told me of a multiple campus site compared to just one centralized location. This is true and why the Mayor of Fishers (northern suburb) is involved. Also why the old Indianapolis airport site is possibly up for grabs. This area has a massive opening of old parking lots and the old airport site totaling 130 acres. The old Indy airport site would be an excellent location for Amazon testing any new drone activity but also increasing relations with FedEx (which is also on location) and building up their aviation side. Plus, the Indianapolis airport location has multiple airport maintenance businesses and private jet landing areas for those who want to skip the TSA. The Indianapolis Airport site has hundreds of acres for Amazon to do what they want. Add in the new Indianapolis Airport (which is right across the runway) is adding a ton of new flights, such as non stop to Seattle (what a coincidence).
The possible downtown location for Amazon has been the much talked about GM Stamping Plant which Indianapolis will probably give away for free to them. An overlooked news story of Mayor Hogestt’s plan to redevelop the White River leading up to Hamilton County. (The city finally woke up to the fact that the camp site of hobos do not generate jobs or taxes. They do attract the naturalistic interaction of humans and rats for those environmentalists who yearn for earthly interactions) This area does need cleaned up and developed. It also leads to the GM Stamping Plant. If Amazon took that spot, they would have free rein in redesigning part of the city. Condos, parks and walking/biking paths all leading to the new the Amazon HQ’s is probably the new vision.
Infrastructure spending is way cheaper for any new business in Indiana. While the city and surrounding suburbs are starting to cobble up petty regulations that add to the cost of building, it still is reasonably priced. The state, cities and towns still have a great infrastructure reasoning in negotiating hooking up proper sewage and electricity rather than fretting over environmental studies where a displaced bat will end up. The geography of central Indiana is business enticing as said before because developers are finding it easier to take old fields and start from scratch. Moving clay dirt is way cheaper than dealing with high density cities. Add in labor costs are not hindered by atrocious rules and that are highly skilled, the end product is a win for Amazon development.
One more note about infrastructure, Amazon already has two major distribution hubs here in central Indiana.
Government climate and Indiana culture
Sixteen years ago when I moved to the Indianapolis area, “city folks” would come here and make fun of “Hoosiers”. We sort of took it. Things have dramatically changed. Usually the people moving here now are escaping failed political incubators of high taxes, Karl Marx regulation and third world social engineering. The “Hoosier” jokes are subsiding and people who have lived here for many decades are proud of how sound the government and business climate is here in the state. People often get weighed down in discussing economics just by numbers. Numbers don’t create a rational government or culture. Indiana’s associational life does. Associational life is the social fabric of the culture the state has via its workforce. Yes, actual humans! Amazon is seeing this with its visits of already existing centers and probably has taken notice.
The Indy Star article I’m replying to in rebuttal fails in this miserably. Amazon is not bringing 50,000 new people into the state all at once. It can draw on an already quiet, yet highly trained workforce from around the state that is already employed. Amazon future pipeline of new employees are located north and south of Indianapolis: Purdue and Indiana Universities.
The State of Indiana government being financially sound and structurally stable does not need rehashed anymore. We are the most stable state in the Midwest and nationally for all intents and purposes. The days arguing or debating with people on this is over. Just go on the interweb and look up the dire financial and regressive social conditions of other states governments.
So in conclusion, Indianapolis and the state of Indiana is the best landing spot for Amazon. There will be growing pains, but in 10 years, the dramatic business and physical transformation of downtown Indianapolis will benefit central Indiana and beyond.