“Hey Amazon, you’re invited to New Hampshire.”
With those seven words, a proposal by Governor Chris Sununu entered the granite state in the race to woo the internet juggernaut, Amazon.com, Inc., to build its second headquarters on land that both Londonderry and Derry share.
The phrase graces the title page of the nearly 80-page proposal, which includes information about town, a list of financial benefits for Amazon and over a dozen letters of recommendation. The site Sununu offered is part of the Woodmont Commons development.
“This is the single site the governor has selected,” said Londonderry Town Council Chairman Tom Dolan. “This is a compliment to the community.”
The “HQ2” site, as it’s been called, has become one for the most sought-after business opportunities in the country. Communities have been lining up with sugar coated lures, each trying to bag the promise of 50 thousand jobs for their residents. Amazon News announced on Twitter Monday morning that the contest had received “238 proposals from across North America for #HQ2.” The company also updated its website with the newest information.
Although Amazon is known for shipping and delivery, the new HQ2 would not be a manufacturing complex. Dolan explained that it would be more of a “cubicle farm,” that would house tech and executive positions. Most of the new jobs would include running software and management. Amazon expects “to invest over $5 billion in construction,” according to its website to build what Dolan called a “6 to 7 million square foot” complex.
During a recent growth management meeting, Dolan and Town Manager Kevin Smith explained how Londonderry was chosen and why the town administrators did not speak publicly about it until after the announcement. Choosing Woodmont Commons was “driven by the governor and his staff,” said Dolan. The town officials were bound by a non-disclosure agreement until after Sununu’s speech on Oct. 18.
Michael Kettenbach, the owner and master developer of Woodmont Commons, said in an email that “we are pleased with the State of New Hampshire’s decision to name Woodmont Commons as their bid for Amazon’s next corporate headquarters.”
According to the proposal, Londonderry would have “all the benefits of Boston without all the headaches.” Some of those listed headaches include traffic (I-93 construction traffic notwithstanding), taxes, and housing affordability concerns. The town’s proximity to the Manchester/Boston Regional Airport is being touted as one of its greatest assets to Amazon. However, the company had asked for sites to be within an hour of an international airport. Although Londonderry meets that requirement being 45 minutes from Logan Airport, there is a strong possibility, according to Smith, that the Manchester Airport could in fact offer international travel in the future to accommodate Amazon’s needs. “It’s demand driven,” said Smith.
Another requirement of Amazon is access to a rail system. Smith explained that there are two options. First is using the existing rail bed that travels from Bedford, through Nashua, Lowell and down to Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s privately run, but has a stop for the airport. If Amazon chooses Londonderry, the rail could be extended out to Woodmont Commons so freight and workers could travel to and from the HQ2. Workers from the Boston area could take the commuter rail from the city to Lowell and up to Londonderry. But saying hello to the railroad could mean saying goodbye to part of the rail trail. According to Smith, the state has the authority to reclaim any part of the rail trail system if it needs to turn it back into a functional railroad. The other option is to build a new rail system up the I-93 corridor.
These plans are hypothetical. Amazon may not choose New Hampshire as its new site for HQ2, but the temptation to think positively can be overwhelming. State Representative Al Baldasaro said this could be a great opportunity to encourage more young workers and families into the community.
“It’s going to put us on the map in a good way,” said Richard Flier of Visionary Institute. “We should be concentrating on a housing point of view, a lifestyle point of view and a conservation point of view.”
The attention Woodmont Commons will get from being nominated by Sununu could inspire other companies to lay down their roots in town, and residents should start preparing by focusing on how they want to preserve the quality of life here in Londonderry.
The full proposal can be found at nheconomy.com under the headline “New Hampshire Pitches Amazon For HQ2.”