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17 State Municipalities Vie For Amazon HQ

Seventeen municipalities in Connecticut are competing for the new $5 billion North American headquarters of Amazon Inc., state economic development officials said Thursday.

The Department of Economic and Community Development did not identify which towns and cities submitted their proposals or provide details about how the municipalities promoted themselves. The agency updated the number from 15 initially made public Wednesday.

“A lot of folks are going to chase this,” said Bryan R. H. Chodkowski, Enfield’s town manager. “This is the whale. Everyone wants to catch the whale and feast on the whale.”

Enfield is among the municipalities vying for the Amazon headquarters. The town cited the Enfield Square Mall with a nearby industrial park as a potential site. The town also promoted other available areas that Amazon may need, Chodkowski said.

In addition, Enfield’s strengths include easy access to I-91, proximity to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and a passenger rail station expected in a few years, he said.

DECD will submit a Connecticut proposal by Amazon’s Oct. 19 deadline. With scores of other states, towns, cities and provinces in the U.S. and Canada, Connecticut will be vying for the prize that includes a $5 billion building complex that eventually will employ 50,000 employees in finance, technology and other high-skill jobs.

Several towns are banding together to woo the Seattle-based Amazon. Bridgeport, Fairfield, New Haven and Stratford submitted a joint proposal to DECD.

Enfield’s Chodkowski said he’ll be meeting soon with his counterpart in Longmeadow, Mass., to discuss an interstate arrangement.

“This kind of catch we can’t do alone,” he said.

And Gary Anderson, Manchester’s director of planning and economic development, said the town is partnering with MetroHartford Alliance, the Hartford area chamber of commerce, to “know what role we could play.”

Manchester will not submit a proposal to Amazon because of a lack of available land, he said.

Other towns that have raised their hands include Stamford and Danbury, which prepared a video pitch directly to Amazon.

Hartford, too, is making a proposal to the state.

Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for the city of New Haven, said the “weight of the bid” of the regional proposal it joined focuses on Connecticut’s two largest cities, each with access to transportation such as I-95, international airports in New York and regional airports in Stratford and New Haven and a direct Amtrak rail link to Grand Central Terminal.

In addition, universities in the New Haven and Bridgeport regions supply the region’s workforce, Grotheer said.

Southwestern Connecticut has access to the metropolitan markets of Boston and New York “without the congestion of those major metropolitan areas,” he said.

Oz Griebel, chief executive officer of MetroHartford Alliance, said several towns in the Capitol Region Council of Governments are proposing their communities, too. He did not identify them.

State officials are promoting Connecticut more than individual towns because the state will be the applicant for Amazon’s new headquarters, he said. The state also will be taking the lead in offering grants and tax arrangements, worker training and other incentives that Amazon may seek in deciding on its headquarters, Griebel said.

Connecticut officials are not indifferent to which municipalities are participating, he said.

“If we had 50,000 jobs in Connecticut, we’d be popping champagne and setting off fireworks wherever they are,” Griebel said.

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