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Amazon spokesman: Ohio State helped Columbus become HQ2 finalist

According to an Amazon spokesman, Ohio State played a major role in Columbus receiving a finalist spot for Amazon HQ2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State played a major role in Columbus receiving a finalist spot for Amazon HQ2, according to a company spokesman.

Adam Sedo, a spokesman for Amazon, said Ohio State’s ability to provide a talented workpool for the company was a factor that led to the E-commerce powerhouse choosing Columbus as a finalist.

“Talent is one of the key drivers,” he said in an email.

Columbus is said to be a longshot to receive the bid for Amazon’s HQ2. Regardless, President Michael Drake said Ohio State will continue in playing a role in the city’s bid through helping in its current application process, although the contributions are somewhat unknown at the moment.

As one of 20 finalists in the running to secure Amazon’s second headquarters, Columbus will submit its second-round proposal to Amazon, Drake said in an interview last month with The Lantern.

If selected, the city can expect an investment of $5 billion from Amazon toward the project and the creation of 50,000 permanent jobs, according to a company press release. The university has remained involved in shaping the language of the city’s proposal throughout the process, Drake said.

“We have continual conversations with those who will be sending the final documents to refine what those documents will say,” Drake said. “That will go on for the next couple of weeks.”

Drake said the university’s involvement in the process has not yielded any inside information regarding Amazon’s final decision, but said he has talked with city officials like Mayor Andrew Ginther about how Amazon could better shape Columbus and its economy.

Amazon outlined in a request for proposal its criteria for potential host locations. Among the company’s preferences are a business-friendly tax structure, mass public transit system, a diverse population and a highly educated workforce.

Despite Amazon’s stated intention to choose its second headquarters location through a public process, most of the information has remained confidential — leaving experts and observers to speculate which factors are most important to the company.

Drake said he believes Amazon will choose a location with “a very powerful university community.”

Ohio State is committed to helping students become high-skilled, tech-savvy employees, Drake said.

“We will only continue to assure everyone that our goal is to be the most powerful and effective university that we can be, such that a company — Amazon or another — would wish to locate business in and around this region,” he said.

Of universities in the remaining finalist cities and regions, Ohio State has the most students enrolled.

Several remaining cities — such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — have larger populations of college students than Columbus.

Drake said the selection process can be unpredictable and each finalist has something to offer.

“This is a real competition and it’s hard to know how it’s going to come out,” he said.

If the city remains a contender after Amazon narrows its list, city and university officials would begin discussing where the potential facility could be constructed, Drake said.

“Those [discussions] would be decisions we would have to make and we’d make those … with the best interests of the university and the community at heart,” he said.

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