Penn President Amy Gutmann, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and various other Philadelphia leaders have been working for months to convince the tech giant Amazon to pick the city as the site for its second headquarters. Penn students and faculty have also contributed to the campaign, organizing various competitions with the aim of giving Philadelphia a stronger shot at the bid.
Amid all this excitement, one Penn Law professor has suggested that Amazon might not be as beneficial for the "City of Brotherly Love" as expected.
Chris Sanchirico, the Samuel A. Blank professor of law, business, and public policy at Penn recently wrote a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that the city needs to re-evaluate how they attract new businesses.
The column suggests that investing resources to go after large companies like Amazon is a "mentally sluggish" approach.
"We’ve limiting our thinking and attention to blockbuster and celebrity: If it’s not happening in the headlines, it’s not happening," Sanchirico writes, adding that large companies may not bring as much value to the city as leaders expect.
Even though research has suggested that Amazon's HQ2 would bring 50,000 jobs to the city, Sanchirico argues that the company may be too powerful to manage. Mayors of the city might need to yield to Amazon's requests in order to avoid being “the mayor who lost Amazon," he said.
"Amazon isn’t just 50,000 jobs and an office complex over the tracks," Sanchirico said. "It’s 50,000 jobs and an office complex over the tracks controlled by a single negotiator."
Sanchirico also wrote that instead of investing $1 billion in the bid for Amazon, Philadelphia should invest in small businesses in the city.
“Here’s a new rule of thumb for urban planning: boring is better,” he explained.
The likelihood of Philadelphia receiving this Amazon outpost remains in question. 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.