Editorial: Pursuing Amazon

It’s a smart move for Kansas officials to aggressively pursue the new headquarters that Amazon.com plans.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said Wednesday that state officials are making a major push to entice the internet company to build its second corporate headquarters on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Amazon is based in Seattle but announced on Sept. 7 that it plans to build a second headquarters with up to 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion annual payroll. Those are the kind of numbers that make the recently announced poultry processing plant planned near Tonganoxie look like, well, chicken scratch.

Amazon’s requirements for the project include that the site be within 30 miles of a major population center, within 45 minutes of an international airport, within two miles of a major highway and have access to mass transit. The company has said it is looking for a metropolitan area that has at least 1 million residents, good schools and a “business friendly” political environment.

The Kansas City metropolitan area would meet most of the conditions, and at least one publication — PC Magazine — ranked Kansas City as the top site for Amazon’s new offices. Colyer and other state officials are of course pushing for a site west of the Missouri River in Johnson or Wyandotte County.

“Kansas actually has a very realistic shot at this thing,” said Colyer, who is expected to become governor in the coming weeks after current Gov. Sam Brownback takes over as the Trump Administration’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom. “We’re going to put together the most aggressive package we’ve ever put together for Amazon because we can compete.”

Colyer said one advantage for the state is that Amazon already has two facilities here: fulfillment centers in Lenexa and Kansas City, Kan.

Landing Amazon certainly is not a slam dunk. While Kansas City was the top site by PC Magazine, the city didn’t even make the New York Times’ final 25. Kansas City got cut in the first round, because the city’s job growth wasn’t strong enough. The Times’ analysis chose Denver as the best location.

Media analyses don’t count for much other than to underscore how deep the interest is — and thus how fierce the competition will be — in landing Amazon. But given the benefits a Kansas City headquarters on the Kansas side of the metro area will have throughout the region, including Lawrence, state officials should do all they can to bring Amazon here.