Charlotte’s leaders owe us answers on Amazon miss

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This article was originally published January 19, 2018.

We can speculate all we want about why Amazon left Charlotte off the list of 20 finalists for the company’s second headquarters.

But it turns out that there might be a way to find out right from the horse’s mouth. Charlotte’s leaders owe us the answer.

You’ve probably heard by now that Raleigh, Atlanta and Nashville all made the first cut in the sweepstakes for $5 billion in investment and 50,000 jobs.

The reveal left leaders of the 200-odd other cities who submitted bids scrambling to figure out what went wrong.

In Charlotte, some of the answers are pretty clear. We don’t have the Research Triangle Park or the Raleigh area’s major research universities.

But was there something more specific?

The Detroit Free Press reports that leaders in their city spoke with Amazon executives soon after the finalists were named to find out why they weren’t one of them. Amazon told Detroit that it was primarily a lack of a talent pool, with poor public transportation being a secondary factor.

Did Charlotte have a similar conversation with Amazon? Did we try to have one?

These are some of the questions I asked the Charlotte Regional Partnership, which led bid process in our city late last year.

All I got back were crickets. The official statement from the partnership isn’t much better.

Even if it’s embarrassing, Charlotte Regional Partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant (who earns a $285,000 salary, by the way) owes it to the community to let us know where we fall short. That way, we can either work on our problems or determine another path forward.

And while we’re at it, I’ve got plenty more questions.

Why did you exclude all of the business leaders, developers and other thinkers who wanted to help with the bid? Raleigh put together a major task force that included the entire community.

Did our bid include anything more than boilerplate brochures?

What incentives did we offer?

Did we work with the state or go things alone?

Did we even really try?

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Andrew Dunn
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