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With No Timetable, Pittsburgh Waits For Amazon's 'Important Decision' On HQ2

Richard Drew
In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, file photo, the Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square.

The city of Pittsburgh will officially throw its hat into the ring Wednesday as a contender for Amazon's second North American headquarters, along with what could be as many as 200 other cities.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 19 for what Amazon says will be a $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said “dozens of sites” in Allegheny and surrounding counties have been suggested, but Amazon has indicated it wants the headquarters to be within 20 miles of the urban core.

Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had a private conference call last week with an Amazon executive who is expected to review all of the applications. Fitzgerald would not discuss details of the conversation, not even the executive’s name.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations over the last month with a lot of folks who are familiar with Amazon,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good ideas about the culture of what they’d like to see.”

He said Amazon is very interested in tech talent and in diversity in the workforce. According to Amazon’s website, 61 percent of its workers are men, 39 percent are women. Along racial lines, 48 percent are white; 21 percent African-American; 13 percent Asian; and, 13 percent are Hispanic. However, three out of four managers are men, and two of three managers are white.

“Amazon is struggling with that [diversity]. Like every other company it's a challenge right now to diversify the workforce,” Fitzgerald said. “As a society, if we're going to compete, we've got to become a diverse community. And I think Amazon wants to be able to move to a region that embraces diversity.”

Fitzgerald added that he has not been told of a timeline for Amazon’s decision. 

"This is an important decision that not only is going to impact the city that they go to, but it's going to impact this company for the next couple of decades."   

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
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