Calvin College Chimes

Grand Rapids bid for Amazon headquarters fails

Grand Rapids is not the ideal city for the relocation of Amazon's headquarters. Logo from

Grand Rapids is not the ideal city for the relocation of Amazon's headquarters. Logo from

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Updated: 2/21/18, 10:06 p.m.

Cities across the nation are eagerly awaiting the reveal of the location for Amazon’s new headquarters. Grand Rapids applied with a bid of 108 pages. However, to the locals’ discontent, Grand Rapids is no longer in the running.

Calvin political science professor Mikael Pelz, who is currently teaching the POLS-208 class on urban politics, shared what he thinks is the general criteria for cities to house a powerful corporation.

“A company like Amazon is looking for a city to be able to tap into their workforce, a workforce that is savvy and doesn’t need a lot of training.”

Pelz also believes there should be an abundance of property at a cheap rate, as well as easy access to major airports or different modes of transportation for employees and goods.

“[Grand Rapids] has a lot of amenities; it’s easier in Grand Rapids to buy a house in the city, whereas in a lot of other major markets, like Chicago or Denver, it would be very difficult. Property values are almost impossibly high.”

Pelz added that even though property values have gone up in Grand Rapids, they are still relatively affordable compared to many other cities. He said the city is also at a more convenient distance between attractions and transportation, as well as being an economically and politically diverse community.

While Grand Rapids holds many of these assets within their parameters, Amazon is most likely looking for a more spacious location, Pelz said.

“Part of it would be that I’m not sure we would have the workforce they were looking for, but more importantly, we are still kind of a midsize city.” He explained that although Grand Rapids is expanding, it is still not at the point that is needed for a giant corporation to set up shop.

“It’s hard for Grand Rapids to compete with Chicago and Washington, D.C. … Our airport is pretty small and utility kinds of things in Grand Rapids are still relatively small. It would be hard for Amazon to make GR work.”

Grand Rapids wouldn’t offer enough of a workforce to appeal to Amazon. Pelz explained that it would have to make up for things like that by providing cheap land and would end up giving too much in the process just to make up for all these things to even compete with places like Washington, D.C.

Amazon is such a large, powerful company that it can afford to be extremely picky when choosing a new headquarters. Currently, the top three contenders for the headquarters are Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Raleigh, N.C.

“With a company like Amazon, cities are falling over themselves to provide some sort of offer,” Pelz said.

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