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Mayor lays out case for bringing Amazon to O’Fallon area

In his weekly note to the residents of O’Fallon, Ill., Mayor Herb Roach today made a personal pitch for his region’s location for a new headquarters for Amazon.

Following is the column released Tuesday.

roach herbNearly every city, county, and state in North America is currently organizing their data and creating their best pitch language – all hoping to craft the perfect response to the nationwide Request for Proposals for Amazon’s second corporate headquarters.

On Friday, Sept. 15, the Chicago Tribune reported there were at least 101 cities, states, provinces and counties in the U.S. and Canada that have indicated they are interested. The count should be increased to 102, because O’Fallon is also making the push to lure Amazon.

For those who may not know already, Amazon is currently searching for a site for its second headquarters, where it expects to spend more than $5 billion building facilities and employ as many as 50,000 people.

The Mid America Commerce Center, which is over 1,500 acres surrounding Interstate 64, between Exit 19 and the brand-new Exit 21, just north of Scott Air Force Base would be perfect for Amazon’s new headquarters. For those who remember, this large area included the site perfectly tailored for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s western headquarters.

Why is the Mid America Commerce Center, and O’Fallon, perfect for Amazon? Many of the very same reasons that it was perfect for the NGA.

• It provides a large area for Amazon to construct purpose-built facilities that are safe, secure, flexible, and efficient, as well as allow for future expansion.
• Easy access to a multitude of transportation options and flow required for large-scale development. The prospect area is located directly on I-64 at Exits 19 and 21. The drive time to St. Louis is less than 20 minutes.
• Proximity and immediate access to Scott Air Force Base, Mid America Airport, and the Scott-Shiloh Metrolink Station.
• Location that is accessible and flexible with robust amenities in a community with a high quality of life and people.
• A highly-educated workforce, with over 46% of the population in O’Fallon holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The most important factor is the area’s location next to Scott Air Force Base, home of the U.S. Transportation Command and the Defense Information Systems Agency Global Operations Command – two commands that contain some of the greatest minds in logistics, supply chain management, and cyber security, in the world.

USTRANSCOM is the single manager of the United States’ global defense transportation system. DISA provides information technology and communications support to America’s executive branch and Department of Defense. When you talk about synergy and talent recruitment, what would be better for Amazon than working next door to USTRANSCOM and DISA?

We are not the only ones who believe the talent concentrated at Scott Air Force Base and the surrounding communities is a great asset. The Urban Land Institute recently produced a report about the Mid America Commerce Center, stating the area, “boasts a number of significant attributes that makes development here attractive, particularly as it relates to the proximity of Scott Air Force Base and the Base’s focus on technology and particular focus on logistics and cyber security.”

By leveraging the proximity of this highly-skilled workforce, development around the base has the potential to bring additional skilled workers, provide additional employment opportunities, and attract complimentary businesses to O’Fallon.

Many of our local leaders have already contacted us offering their help. In fact, State Representative Charlie Meier reached out to me shortly after the request for proposals was issued and offered his support in helping to bring Amazon to O’Fallon.

In the end, Amazon’s leadership will make their decision based on what location is best for the future of their company. While the St. Louis region may not compete, in terms of size and volume with Chicago, New York, and Dallas, I would argue that the human talent is here – in St. Louis, in Scott Air Force Base, in O’Fallon.

As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open!
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