Birmingham’s proposal to Amazon is signed, sealed and delivered.
We’re not the only ones, though. It’s us against 237 other “cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico, hoping to be the home of the company’s second headquarters.”
Who Are They?
No one knows! But, I will say a quick Google news search will give you some clues.
ABC News reports that Amazon decided to keep the list of applicants to themselves. They did mention that proposals came from:
- 43 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico
- 3 Mexican states
- 6 Canadian provinces
A Big Effort
Rick Davis, vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, told us about the collaboration:
“Right after the RFP (request for proposals) came out, we convened a meeting of, I guess you could call them, the usual allies, that work on this kind of economic project,” Davis said.
The Usual Allies
Mayor William Bell and Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington pulled together elected leadership from around the Jefferson County area. Next, the group met and forged two plans.
“… Two meetings converged, and we had one huge group together, Davis said.
“The decision was made to take this one twofold: work the project as a typical economic development project, even though, of course, it’s not typical.
“And the other way was to do a media campaign to draw attention to the positive attributes about Birmingham.”
The Amazon Team
After the initial meetings, the collaborators went to work. They included:
- Alabama Department of Commerce
- Alabama Power
- Big Communications
- Birmingham Airport Authority
- Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority.
- Birmingham Business Alliance
- City of Birmingham staff
- Economic Development Partnership of Alabama
- Jefferson County Commission,
- Mayors from the largest 10 cities in Jefferson County
- Private entities (not named by Davis)
- Rev Birmingham
- Spire Energy (formerly Alagasco)
While the groups hammered out the economic proposal, a local advertising and public relations firm went to work on a social media plan.
Big Communications created a multi-faceted campaign that turned buzz-worthy fast. They built three huge replicas of an Amazon box and placed them around the city. You’ve probably seen them! We’ve posted about them here and here.
Also, they built a Bring A to B website. Oh, and then they made these giant Amazon Dash buttons. Here’s what the Seattle Times had to say about them.
Since the media push, we’ve garnered national media attention. It seems like that’s always a good thing.
Do We Stand A Chance With Amazon?
According to Davis, we do. He’s asking the city to remember 1992. You know, the year Mercedes searched for a North American manufacturing location.
“People laughed out loud, Davis said. “They literally said, ‘There’s no way in the world that a company like Mercedes Benz would locate in Alabama. It’s just not going to happen; forget that.’
“And, they just gave all the reasons why it was never going to happen. Well, if you go back to the last twenty-five years, Mercedes has not only been an unbelievable corporate citizen, but they have thrived here …”
While noting the Mercedes parallel, Davis added:
“Yeah, we have a shot. Is it a long shot? Yeah, it’s a long shot, but we knew that going in. If we can convince Amazon of some of the things we convinced Mercedes 25 years ago, we just might be right there.”