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Fitzgerald Says He Feels ‘Really Good About Prospects’ Of Landing Amazon

Ted S. Warren
Pictured are boxes next to a cargo plane in a hangar in Seattle. Pittsburgh is hoping to be considered as the location for the company's new, second headquarters.

An announcement last week by online retail giant Amazon that it was looking for a second North American headquarters has caused a stir in Pittsburgh and other cities across the country. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto immediately tweeted the city would pursue Amazon.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company is offering a $5 billion investment and bring up to 50,000 jobs to the winning city.

“I think we really are in a good competitive position to win,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Amazon has a big wish list for the home of its second headquarters, including a population greater than 1 million, being near an airport and mass transit, and being capable of supporting “a stable and business-friendly environment.”

According to Fitzgerald, the Pittsburgh area fits the bill. 

“No. 1, we have the technology. They are also looking for a place for 50,000 people that is affordable to live. Pittsburgh is one of the most affordable cities,” Fitzgerald said. 

He also cited quality of life, “that is really unsurpassed in other places with arts and culture with major league sports, with wonderful trails.”

Amazon is also looking for space—up to 8 million square feet.

"They need places with lots of land,” Fitzgerald said. “We have sites like that, that are in the urban core places like Almono and Carrie Furnace; the terminal building which ... has almost half-a-million square feet. They like to be in older industrial buildings and re-purpose those.”

But what financial incentives is Amazon seeking to lure them to Pittsburgh? According to Fitzgerald, he and Governor Tom Wolf have already met with some company representatives.

“We know that there will be tax breaks as part of this and we're going to be part of that when you're talking about 50,000 jobs, when you're talking about a $5 billion investment, it makes sense to do that,” he said. 

Fitzgerald added that there are also the ancillary jobs that will be created if Amazon comes to Pittsburgh.

“We’ll sit down and we'll do a cost benefit analysis to how much incentives really make sense for this region," he said. " The goal is to win.”

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm