Franklin County will play a major role in the selection of a new midwestern headquarters site in the St. Louis region.
A vote was planned by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) on one of five proposed sites for a second Amazon North American headquarters to be equal to its flagship in Seattle.
The new location would bring as many as 50,000 jobs, with an average compensation for each new full-time employee exceeding $100,000.
Although Franklin County is lacking the few key components to have a viable site, Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, who is currently the chairman of the EWGW executive board, says he is certain county residents would benefit from the new opportunities the headquarters would bring and likens it to the Chrysler plant before it closed.
“Franklin and Jefferson counties don’t really have a dog in the fight,” Griesheimer said. “But, the most important thing right now is to show Amazon a united front from the eight member counties.”
Griesheimer added St. Louis city and county are the lead agencies on the Amazon deal, but asked EWGW to weigh in to give the decision more of a regional flair.
“The process has been fair,” Griesheimer said. “I think everybody will come together. We have to in order for St. Louis to have a chance.”
As of now, there are five potential sites for the Amazon headquarters.
The three front-runners are two sites in downtown St. Louis and one on the east side near the East St. Louis riverfront.
The first of the two St. Louis sites is an area north of America’s Center that was marketed as a site for a new stadium for the Rams football team before they left for California.
The second downtown site is the old AT&T building in the heart of the city, which in Griesheimer’s opinion is the most attractive because much of the infrastructure is already in place.
In addition to the St. Louis centric locations, Madison County in Illinois and St. Charles county on this side of the river both have site proposals that will be considered by EWGW, but are long shots.
“The major thing Amazon is looking for is access to public transportation,” Griesheimer said. “There also needs to be easy access to an international airport and they want 100 acres. I’d love for Franklin County to have a site to propose, but we just don’t have two of those things out here.”
Griesheimer said he hasn’t had any direct contact with the St. Louis leadership, but planned on reaching out to St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
The St. Louis region is already a hub of activity for Amazon with a distribution center employing 350 in Hazelwood and a facility near Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville currently employing about 2,200 people.
Even with recent civil unrest in the city, Griesheimer believes it won’t hurt the region’s chances on landing the headquarters, but it’s hard to say.
“There are an awful lot of positives in the St. Louis region we can hang our hat on,” Griesheimer said. “It will send a strong message if we are all on the same page.”
The final site proposal for the St. Louis area is due to Amazon by Oct. 19.
Other midwestern contenders for the $1.7 billion Amazon headquarters are Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Memphis, Tenn. If they choose to locate closer to the East Coast, Atlanta, Boston and Richmond, Va. are on the radar.