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Rahm Touts Chicago's 'Midwestern Work Ethic' In Push For Amazon HQ

By Heather Cherone | September 20, 2017 3:52pm | Updated on September 21, 2017 10:16am
"Do not underestimate the quality of a Midwestern work ethic," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

DOWNTOWN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued his intense push to persuade Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to build the tech giant’s second home in Chicago on Wednesday, using the opening of a new Downtown office to tout Chicagoans' "Midwestern work ethic."

Chicagoans' "incredible strength" would be an asset to the tech giant, which is looking to build a $5 billion second headquarters that would employ at least 50,000 people, Emanuel said.

"Do not underestimate the quality of a Midwestern work ethic," Emanuel said.

Emanuel declined to discuss the outcome of a Seattle visit by state and city officials, saying he did not want to "prejudge" what they learned about the tech giant's operations.

However, Emanuel said he was confident that Chicago offered Amazon "all that and more" of what it is looking for in a second home.

An eight-page request for proposals posted online said the firm expects to be offered incentives to offset building and operating costs. Those incentives "will be significant factors in the decision-making process," according to the proposal.

Emanuel again declined on Wednesday to discuss the incentives Amazon would be offered to pick Chicago, calling it a "fair question" that it was too soon to answer.

But the mayor left the door open for the city and state to offer Amazon a lucrative package to lure it to Chicago.

"This is a unique situation, one you don't want to miss," Emanuel said.

Also on Wednesday, Emanuel asked Chicagoans to pitch in and suggest where in Chicago Amazon should locate its headquarters.

The deadline for proposals is Oct. 19. Those offers must include 500,000 square feet of initial space and the ability to expand up to 8 million square feet of space over the next 10 years, according to the proposal. The site should also provide direct access to public transportation and be located within 30 miles of a population center and 45 minutes of an airport.

Chicago property owners have until Sept. 27 to submit their land to be considered for Amazon's new headquarters, officials said.

Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman said the crowdsourcing effort was designed to ensure all contenders for the new headquarters are considered by officials.

Emanuel — who said Wednesday he was "laser focused" on winning the bid — has not indicated where in Chicago he believes the headquarters should be built.

Emanuel declined to answer questions about Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to help St. Louis — across the border in Missouri — to bid for the Amazon headquarters.

"We are a world-class city in the middle of the heartland," Emanuel said. "All parts of Chicago are putting their shoulder to the wheel for this."

Company officials said they expect to make a decision next year and start construction in 2019.