St. Louis leaders tout rejected Amazon plan as blueprint for growth

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ST. LOUIS – Hopes of bringing an Amazon center to St. Louis have been dashed. On Thursday morning, Amazon released its list of the top 20 cities in the running for its second headquarters. St. Louis was not on that list.

Among the 20 cities making the cut: Toronto, Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Miami.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership said they put the best deal forward they could have and were disappointed, but said the future of St. Louis is still bright.

The St. Louis pitch to Amazon was solid. For starters, the city offered 1.1 million square feet on day one in the AT&T building and other buildings downtown, a riverfront campus connecting Missouri and Illinois by bridges, as well as 100 acres on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River and 200 more acres on the Illinois side.

An HQ2 campus set on the banks of the Mississippi River. An additional eight to 10 million acres available downtown. But Amazon wasn't interested.

“I have no reason to think Amazon didn't give us a fair shake,” said Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. “I just think maybe someone else had something they're looking for that we didn't have, but we will know.”

St. Louis was ready to give Amazon a front door at the airport, a welcome center for business with direct access and connection to an airport terminal. Also, a 200-room airport hotel with direct connection to MetroLink. The vision included connecting St. Louis-Lambert and Mid-America airports, with MetroLink running between each.

“When you have an icon like the Arch in your front yard, that’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the nation, that's compelling,” Sweeney said.

St. Louis native Jon Hamm lent his voice for a promotional video for the bid. In the end, elected leaders, civic-minded folks, and citizens who worked so well together were disappointed but now look to the future.

Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted, "Working together as a region on amazon forced us to focus on our assets. we will continue to use the proposal we put together as a blueprint for growth.”

Some major tax abatements were also offered, with $3.82 billion coming from the state, city, and county, and an additional $1.6 billion coming from St. Clair County and the state of Illinois.

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