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Boston Herald: Tito Jackson not sold on Boston hosting Amazon's HQ2

September 13, 2017

Mayoral candidate Tito Jackson is urging caution before Boston makes a push to host Amazon’s second headquarters, but business experts said the city needs to be aggressive — and late-breaking reports suggest the online retail giant might be interested in moving here.

Amazon put out a call last week for cities to submit proposals to host the company’s new $5 billion headquarters, and according to a report in Bloomberg News, multiple senior Amazon executives have pushed for Boston as the new location. Amazon has denied the report.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said he’ll look at making a pitch — the deadline for initial proposals is Oct. 19 — but a City Hall spokeswoman said he had no comment on the article.

In an interview on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” show earlier in the day, before the Bloomberg article was posted, Jackson said he would want a thorough analysis of Amazon’s potential impact on Boston before pushing forward. He cited Boston’s failed Olympic bid and the collapse of IndyCar — both initially championed by Walsh — as reasons not to rush in. Amazon wants to build a massive 8 million-square-foot campus with up to 50,000 employees — a project that some local development experts said could be hard to accommodate in the densely developed Boston area.

“It is critical that we actually pull back, and not be moved by hype — the hype that got us into the Olympics, the hype that got us into the IndyCar race — and actually look at what’s best for the people of the city of Boston,” Jackson said. “I think that we need to measure several times before we need to cut. This has to be about the long term and not the short term reactions.”

But business leaders said Boston needs to move quickly and boldly to compete with the other cities.

“I think any mayor in America would not be doing his or her job by not looking seriously at this, I don’t think Boston should sit on the sidelines for this while we think about it,” said Boston Chamber of Commerce president Jim Rooney. “I’m not dismissing the need for some form of analysis but what I’m saying is Boston should compete, submit a proposal by the deadline and play it out, go into the game to win and not be hesitant.”

“I would hope (Jackson) is not trying to put the brakes on this effort to compete for Amazon, I don’t think people would or should take him seriously,” said Greg Sullivan, research director for the Pioneer Institute, a right-leaning think tank. “It sounds a lot like he’s saying it’s time to close the doors, we’re done, we’re full, we can’t handle anything else. If that’s the future of Boston and Massachusetts, then that’s a dire prediction.”

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