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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. Enlarge photo

September 13, 2017, 12:34 p.m. Updated: 13 September 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 Amazon.com 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."

Originally published at: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/sep/13/colyer-kansas-making-major-push-amazon-headquarter/