Editorial: A request for proposals
Dear Jeff Bezos,
People across the country were intrigued to learn that you’re shopping for an HQ2 site, a place to locate a second Amazon headquarters. It seems Amazon has outgrown Seattle and needs a place to accommodate the 50,000 workers you expect to hire in the years to come.
As metro cities court you, please consider another alternative — a place where you would have plenty of space, an eager workforce and a lightning fast municipal broadband system.
Yes, Salisbury would be the place — or, more appropriately, Salisbury-Rowan.
Rowan County fits many of the criteria you set out for your new location. Interstate 85 bisects the county, carrying about 78,000 vehicles a day through Salisbury, with a capacity for much more. No doubt that’s why Amazon has chosen to build a couple of warehouses nearby.
You’d be located within 45 minutes of not one but two international airports — which raises an interesting point. Salisbury is about halfway between Charlotte and the Triad. That would put you in the middle of a market that includes more than 4 million people, several universities and colleges and a beautiful natural environment.
Does Rowan County have the wealth of software developers Amazon would need? To be honest, no. But talent will flock to the second headquarters wherever you go, and in Rowan you would not be competing with the likes of Microsoft and Apple for employees. Furthermore, our community college and other area colleges and universities can gear up to prepare the kind of workers you need.
Mr. Bezos, we may not yet have the education levels you need, but your sense of economy and efficiency would be right at home in Rowan County. In fact, the people here might teach you a thing or two. We wish Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner were still around to demonstrate, But there are plenty of people here that know how to stretch a dollar.
And compared to Seattle, where the average home price is more than $660,000, the cost of living in Rowan is minuscule.
Amazon says this will be a transformational project, and building it in Rowan County would indeed reshape the entire Piedmont. It would connect the Charlotte and Triad metros and create a new super-metro more populous than Seattle and with a lot more room to spread out.
More important, Amazon could lift a region left behind by the textile and furniture industries. This summer you tweeted a “request for ideas” for philanthropy. In Rowan County, you could practice philanthropy just by doing business. We’re not asking for charity; we just want an opportunity to put more people to work.
We look forward to hearing from you.