Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Colyer: Kansas making major push for Amazon headquarters

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, center, talks with Ottawa City Commissioner Mike Skidmore, left, and attorney Brandon Jones, right, following an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast Wednesday at Ransom Memorial Hospital.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, center, talks with Ottawa City Commissioner Mike Skidmore, left, and attorney Brandon Jones, right, following an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast Wednesday at Ransom Memorial Hospital.

September 13, 2017, 12:34 p.m. Updated September 13, 2017, 1:55 p.m.


— Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said Wednesday that state officials in Kansas are making a major push to entice the internet-based retail giant to build its second corporate headquarters on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

"Kansas actually has a very realistic shot at this thing," he said during a breakfast meeting of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.

'We’re going to put together the most aggressive package we’ve ever put together for Amazon because we can compete," he said. "PC Magazine ranks the Kansas City area number one in the Amazon sweepstakes."

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, center, talks with Ottawa City Commissioner Mike Skidmore, left, and attorney Brandon Jones, right, following an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast Wednesday at Ransom Memorial Hospital.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, center, talks with Ottawa City Commissioner Mike Skidmore, left, and attorney Brandon Jones, right, following an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" breakfast Wednesday at Ransom Memorial Hospital.

Amazon, currently headquartered in Seattle, announced Sept. 7 that it plans to build a second headquarters that would eventually be home to some 50,000 jobs and potentially a $5 billion annual payroll.

The company has said it is looking for a metropolitan area that has at least 1 million residents, good schools, an airport with direct flights to major cities on both the East and West Coast, and a "business friendly" political environment.

Colyer, who is soon to become governor and is running in 2018 for a full term four-year term, said Kansas already has a good relationship with Amazon.

“One of the things is, Amazon already has two facilities in Kansas that we have worked very closely with them on,” he said, referring to the company’s two fulfillment centers in Kansas City, Kan., and Lenexa. He added that the Kansas Department of Commerce and the local Kansas City community have developed good relationships with the company.

But competition for the Amazon headquarters is certain to be fierce. Although PC Magazine did rate the Kansas City area as the top city Amazon should consider for what is being called its "HQ2," it also listed five other metropolitan areas as strong contenders: Dallas-Fort Worth; Minneapolis; Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; and Charlotte, N.C.

Other publications have listed Atlanta, Denver, Boston and Toronto as strong candidates as well.

Colyer, however, said Kansas still has a lot to offer, including good highways, public schools, hospitals and its higher education system.

"We have the whole spectrum," he said. "We're going to be aggressive on things like Amazon, but we're going to be really aggressive with our local communities. That's the partnership."

During the breakfast speech, Colyer took questions on some policy issues, something he has done rarely since Gov. Sam Brownback was tapped for a diplomatic post in the Trump administration. His answers, though, tended to be very general in nature.

Asked how he distinguishes himself from all the other GOP candidates in the governor's race, Colyer deflected the question and said he doesn't want to compare himself with other people.

"I want to change the tone," he said. "I want to build on these great strengths and the optimism and the things that are in Kansas."


Cliff Sperry 9 months, 1 week ago

Interesting that he mentions "good highways, public schools", etc. Only a couple of the things the current administration has influenced in a negative way...

Harlan Hobbs 9 months, 1 week ago

Give it a rest, Cliff. Maybe there will be signs from protesters saying they don't want Amazon in the area, just like they don't want the 1500 jobs that Tyson Foods wants to bring to the Tonganoxie area.

Maybe the word Amazon is too reflective of South America or some of their primitive backwoods to be acceptable. After all, ESPN didn't want an Asian man named Lee to broadcast a game in Virginia because it might conjure remembrances of Robert E. Lee. By the way, when is Bill Clinton going to change his middle name from "Jefferson", since Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner who fathered a number of children with one of his female slaves. Then again, maybe that is why "Slick Willie" admired him!

Let's see. The last name "Sperry" brings up recollections of the Sperry-Rand corporation. Should we examine their background to see what "major offenses" they perpetrated.

I guess that I can be happy with the name "Hobbs" since about all that conjures up is Hobbs, New Mexico, Thomas Hobbes the philosopher, and Calvin & Hobbes. Not much to chew on there except the different spellings.

Bob Summers 9 months, 1 week ago

Congenital Liberals, those people under the influence of DRD4 gene polymorphism, cannot possibly behave any other way than they do. They are angry. They are bitter. They are emotionally hyper-sensitive. They need "safe space" when they hear words that make them fussy. They need pajamas with feet in them. The climate is changing and it's big oil fault. They give sanctuary to murderers and rapists. They want VA healthcare for everyone.

They are rioters. They are ANTIFA!!

They are the congenital Liberals

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

You're amazing, Bob.

Conservatives are FAR FAR more angry than left leaners. The left simply responds to your anger. Even your comment above is full of anger and vitriol. They almost always are.

Do as I do and it might help you: Put a smile on your face as you're typing your comments and it'll automatically relieve some of your anger and vitriol and your comments won't sound like you're choking on hatred and anger.

Cliff Sperry 9 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Hobbs, I really don't get your reply. Give "what" a rest? I made a simple, accurate statement-nothing more, nothing less. Your reference to my surname is truly laughable in this context. You really must be struggling to find something to do...

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

I hope Amazon puts their new facility in Kansas. The usual suspects would fly into high dudgeon and be totally outraged for months. It would be most amusing.

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

Read my comment below. Find the outrage in it. I'll wait. :)

Richard Quinlan 9 months, 1 week ago

Kansas is probably number 52 on the list , not a chance.

David Holroyd 9 months, 1 week ago

Build at the has other corporate offices there.

Mark Kostner 9 months, 1 week ago

If Colyer can pull that off, he'd be a miracle worker and it would definitely be a game changer for next year's elections. It would also be a game changer for Kansas and Kansas City economically for sure. The upside for Amazon is that they would be the top dog in the region. The downsides are lack of a good transit system, which is correctable, and the airport, although since it appears the KCI terminal ballot question may not pass in November, it opens up the possibility of a new Johnson County International Airport at the Sunflower site. If Colyer can get Amazon and a new airport it would be historic and a sea change for Kansas. KU and Lawrence could really transformed as well. Amazon headquarters certainly beats a chicken plant in Tonganoxie doesn't it?

Greg Cooper 9 months, 1 week ago

Can Amazon sell chickens? Two birds with one stone....

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 months, 1 week ago

This would be great if it would happen, but why would they put it here? This is going to be a second headquarters, not a replacement, and I would think they would like a place much like Seattle, which is a very progressive city. And all the bad press Kansas has gotten since Brownback's destructive "experiment" isn't going to help. Sure, we are working our way back to being a great state again, but it's going to take awhile to fix things.

It would be a miracle if Colyer could pull this off. If he did, I might even consider voting for him. And yes, it would be better than Tyson. It would be really diversifying our economy, unlike more agriculture. And if they paid well and hired a lot of people, it might force other companies to follow suit. Oops, I shouldn't have said that. Now the Chamber of /Commerce will kill it.

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

Land is probably much more expensive around Seattle than in Johnson County. Plus, the mayor of Seattle recently resigned after a fifth person brought allegations of child molestation against him. Rather a blot on his copybook, don't you think?

Michael Kort 9 months, 1 week ago

It is an hours drive from Johnson County to KCI .......obviously a longer drive from the far south or south west end of that county .

The old Olathe Naval Air Station at Gardner would need a complete gut and major enlargement with land and structure condemnations and a highway interchange.......none of which are simple in a country where people would hold out for the better land price or for property rights issues with massive runway and service remakes needed .

Johnson County could start from scratch on an airport but again that requires allot of pieces of private land, a highway interchange built by the state and you'd have to condem land to get that big of a swath of land ........and I suppose that they could do what KCMO is doing (?) with a private firm that could potentially finance and build an airport .

Johnson County has population density and would grow from around 550,000 to 600,000 if this happens and they do have good schools and an educated workforce in their favor and land in the south and west end of the county to burn on development......wether people would want a major new airport in their back yards remains to be seen .

I would assume that Amazon would want a pretty good fiber optic network to their site and I assume that JO CO has that already .

The Sprnt campus originally held 14,000 employees so Amazon would be about 3 1/2 times the size of that .

Good luck to whom ever gets the Amazon campus as they will need a road structure capable of handling 50K people a day showing up for work at various times of the day .

Michael Kort 9 months, 1 week ago

Building an airport at the Sunflower Site would be a nice reuse of the land that was a former large munitions plant .

It would also require building sizable water and sewer infrastructure and a K-10 highway interchange would cost about 1/2 billion to build........and guess what......if you build it, others will come and build next door so overbuilding infrastructure going towards a new airport makes sense .

Too bad that someone we know (?) drained the various highway trust funds to feed their tax cut who could that be ?

I guess that if a new JO CO airport is needed "like tomorrow" the legislature could always just pass another last minute retroactive tax increase on December 31st, like the one that they passed this last mid year .

If you can change the tax rules in the middle of the game why not change them at the end of the game as well ?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 months, 1 week ago

The only "good road" I have experienced is the turnpike, I pay to drive on it, and I get to go faster. Maybe they should look at this as an example of the "good roads" they are bragging about. Oops, I did forget about the short part of US 24 from Grantville to the 237 junction, but that is virtually new.

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

I spoke to someone just yesterday on Skype who until just recently was a software development engineer for Amazon in Seattle. I asked her if she knows why Amazon wants a second headquarters.

She said that many of the people who have been courted by Amazon to come work for them did not want to live in Seattle. Nor Silicon Valley, either.

She believes Amazon wants to give the best candidates for a job with them a choice in where to live.

Maybe. I can see why they'd do that.

Btw, a house that would sell for $50,000 in Topeka now would cost over $500,000 in Seattle. The cost of living is simply way too much for anybody to want to move there. Only professionals with huge incomes could live reasonably well there. It has come to the ridiculous situation.

So, Kansas City could be in the running, however, it's hard to believe it would be. These top tier students at top tier universities can almost have their choice in jobs. Many of them, including the one I talked to yesterday, was courted by numerous tech companies before she even finished her masters at Vanderbilt University. She chose Amazon for the money and benefits they offered which were mind-blowing compared to anywhere in Kansas or Missouri.

Maybe, however, they simply want to save money and they'd pay their employees much less in Kansas City. They do pay according to the cost of living. For instance, they wanted this person to move to London and work for them at a reduced paycheck. She said no.

Now, she's working for a startup that belongs to a professor at Vanderbilt and being paid exactly what Amazon was paying her. And she works from home or anywhere.

I guess we'll know more when they've made their decision. If it's KC, then we might know that they're doing it to save money. If it's some other more interesting city, then who knows?

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

Here's a concern I have about Amazon going to a new city.

It was Amazon that caused Seattle to have such a high cost of living that they have people all over the city living in parks, under overpasses, and on the streets.

Houses are selling for prices only millionaires paid not too long ago.

The cost of living has gone through the roof there.

Why wouldn't that happen in Missouri/Kansas as well?

It's caused by bringing in a lot of people whose wages are far far above the normal for an area. That's how it happened in Seattle. With that many people wanting housing it becomes a competitive thing. An owner knows he has a product that a lot of people want so he starts going steeply up on the price of his house. As he does it, others begin to do the same.

There is no way to stop that from happening.

Do you want that to happen in your city?

It would be fine if you already have the home you know you'll always live in, and it would especially be great for you if you owned other houses and could hold them until they go up ten times what you paid for them, knowing it would happen within 5 years of Amazon moving in.

Think about it so you won't be shocked when it happens here in the same way it has and will continue to happen in Seattle.

How do you stop home owners from selling their houses and land for a million dollars that they paid $50,000 for if someone will pay the price?

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

"...It was Amazon that caused Seattle to have such a high cost of living that they have people all over the city living in parks, under overpasses, and on the streets..." That's an over simplistic rational for why Seattle has a high cost of living. Amazon employees are a tiny fraction of the Seattle population.

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

I'm not the expert on it, but that's what people from Seattle are saying. And it makes sense.

It's not so much the number of employees they have. It's how much more they're being paid, and that there are ENOUGH of them and Microsoft employees there, constantly growing in number, that people with ordinary incomes can't buy houses because the more highly paid people are willing to pay so much more for them.

That's the story IN Seattle, not my idea.

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

"...I'm not the expert on it, but that's what people from Seattle are saying. And it makes sense..." The one person you talked to on Skype?

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

No, Bob. Man, do I have to spell it out.

In talking to that one person, she is saying that is the news around Seattle. IOW, she didn't think it up.

And it makes sense.

She has been in touch in the last few months with a number of real estate agents in Seattle as she's looking to buy another house. They discussed it.

Lordy me....

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

The "aggressive CONSERVATIVE plan" involves taxpayers losing their behind while at the same time politicians are looking at campaign kick backs being funneled into their dark money cookie jars.

Kansas taxpayers should be interested in how much money these amazon jobs are going to cost. They are not coming for free.

"Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Taxpayer Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)." This reveals how local government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the local poor and the local middle class to the rich politically connected.

David Cay Johnston –

Bill Moyers

David Holroyd 9 months, 1 week ago

Lawrence has great roads, city streets. Amazon will like this place!

What does Tyson's have to do with Amazon Dorothy Hoyt Reed.? They wouldn't build in Tonganoxie.

I bet they have already decided to come to Kansas and it is a SECRET..because they are going to Vinland. It has an airport and is close to a college and is close to Johnson County...Don't tell anyone as of now it is a SECRET .

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

David, you may be right. Who knows?

But will you be happy if housing and cost of living in Lawrence goes up to match Seattle's?

People in Seattle, including real estate agents say that Amazon (and Mircrosoft) pay so much more that their employees have caused housing costs to skyrocket there. That includes rent as well as buying homes.

Armen Kurdian 9 months ago

Amazon will demand a huge tax relief plan to open up a facility or HQ here. they did in California, I think California balked. Was a long time ago, can't remember the details. Here? We need the many of those individuals working at the HQ will be transfers from out of state and how many new jobs created in KS?

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months ago

It depends on which jobs you mean.

Amazon has facilities all over the country (and world) where purchases are routed through, already. The person I know who worked at one in Tennessee said it's a hard job and she called it slave labor with low pay.

But the person I know who works as a Software Development Engineer gets paid far more than most occupations, benefits out the wahoo, and can work from home.

At their home office in Seattle there are no low level employees who are not college educated people except for clerks, etc. Most of the employees there are highly educated and highly paid.

My impression is that what they're looking for is a place for the most highly paid Amazon employees... a second home office... not a warehouse. So you'd have to have two things going for you to work there:

  1. A very good college education in computer science
  2. A brain two sizes too big! :)

That's who works in Seattle at the home office. And there is a strong competition for those jobs from all over the world. They hire many non-US citizens who are brilliant and well educated in the field. That's the qualification. They go to the top tier universities around the world to find these people.

More details on that would be good.

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