centerpiece1025
Photo: Julia Schorr

With the support of Penn President Amy Gutmann and Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia has escalated its pitch to Amazon to host the retailing giant's second headquarters in the "City of Brotherly Love."

Gutmann, who in her role as president of Penn oversees the largest private employer in Philadelphia, co-signed a letter to Amazon with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, one of the most influential business advocacy groups in the city. 

"When you bring the smartest people together with the best possible resources, you get new ideas. You get discovery, you get day one innovation. That’s the kind of approach that has made Amazon great and that’s what I feel across Philadelphia," Gutmann wrote in a personal testimonial that was part of the letter. 

Gutmann has previously touted Philadelphia's strengths in an interview with The Huffington Post, where she said, "Philadelphia has so much to offer for any innovative company — top talent, ideas and creativity from our universities, partnerships with global companies, one of the best health care systems in the world, and a city rich with culture as well as a high quality of life.”

The Chamber's letter cited the Greater Philadelphia region's "104 colleges and universities," "favorable cost of living," "rich arts and culture assets," "transformational real estate projects" and "robust regional mass transit passenger services" as signature features. These "key ingredients" are visualized in a website and a series of videos. 

The two to three minute videos, which make pitches for the city based on factors such as livability, talent and logistics, push forth the theme "Philadelphia Delivers." Gutmann makes a quick appearance in the video, which then cuts to images of the Pennovation Center, a site for scientific research that was opened last year. 

But Philadelphia's pitch isn't limited to just words and pictures.

Rob Wonderling, the group's president and chief executive officer, told The Philadelphia Inquirer last week that state officials would offer the company a $1 billion tax incentive to move to Philadelphia. 

He declined to give any more detail on the tax incentive because of a nondisclosure agreement he signed with state officials.

Closer to campus, Wharton faculty recently worked with the city of Philadelphia to organize a Wharton Amazon Writing Competition that invited participants to write a memo for the  city government arguing why Philadelphia would be a great fit for Amazon. Two Penn student groups, The Sign.al and the Marketing Undergraduate Student Establishment have also partnered to organize the Amazon HQ2 to Philly Case Competition, which lets Penn students draft proposals for HQ2 to present to Mayor Kenney. 

All these efforts come after a month after Amazon announced it was on the search for a location for a second headquarters, sending cities across the country into a frenzy. 

Over 230 cities and regions submitted proposals to host "Amazon HQ2," the company announced on Oct. 23. Amazon has promised more than $5 billion in investments and 50,000 jobs for the winning city. 

Pennsylvania is far from the only state to use tax incentives as part of its bid to attract Amazon. California, New York and New Jersey have already announced similar initiatives.  

The city of Philadelphia has also poised itself as a viable choice by releasing videos that feature cultural and business leaders from the area. Additionally, Philadelphia Councilman David Oh proposed legislation that would provide further tax incentives to Amazon’s business. 

Despite fierce competition from cities in other states, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf expressed confidence in a statement to the Inquirer, stating, “We believe we have the strongest proposal and are extremely well-positioned to win this project. We are proud to have coalesced all of our state leaders and partners in this effort and would be proud to be the home of Amazon HQ2.”

Mayor Kenney echoed this sentiment last week when he said to a crowd at the Barnes Foundation that Philadelphia was already in the "Goldilocks zone" for Amazon. He added, more explicitly, "I just want to say that we're going to win." 

According to Fortune magazine, the odds of Philadelphia being Amazon's new home are currently 20 to 1. The current favorite to win the bid for HQ2 is Atlanta. 

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.