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Amazon putting 'HQ2' in Boston would benefit NH, officials say

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

February 26. 2018 9:11PM
 (REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo)



MANCHESTER — Although New Hampshire’s bid to lure a second Amazon headquarters failed, the Granite State may still benefit should the online retail giant choose Boston.

Amazon is still considering where to expand its Seattle-based operations and last month announced 20 locations that were selected as finalists for the coveted “HQ2.”

New Hampshire was among the 238 locations to make a pitch for the project, which according to Amazon could mean up to 50,000 well-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment to whatever area the company chooses. A little more than a month since learning New Hampshire did not make the cut, plenty of Granite Staters are pulling for Boston like never before.

“I think it’s a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ perspective that we have to take,” said Mike Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

While New Hampshire may have missed out on the grand prize, Skelton said Monday that the Granite State is still in position to benefit a great deal from a second Amazon headquarters in greater Boston.

“If we can find ways to bring more talent into our region overall, that’s going to benefit all businesses that are here,” Skelton said.

Gov. Chris Sununu said although New Hampshire’s bid came up short, the Granite State is already seeing benefits from the pitch it made to Amazon.

“We will never stop emphasizing that New Hampshire is open for business, open for workers, and open for opportunity,” Sununu said in a statement. “As part of the regional metro-Boston area, New Hampshire stands ready to partner with Boston should Amazon choose to expand there. New Hampshire’s groundbreaking proposal to recruit Amazon was the most comprehensive business marketing plan our state has ever produced.”

Many of the potential benefits are obvious from the potential addition of the number of jobs Amazon is talking about bringing and the scale of the project.

Will Stewart, executive director of Stay Work Play NH, said New Hampshire could also benefit much from the exposure if Boston gets the nod from Amazon. It may introduce a whole new population to the many amenities offered by the Granite State, including skiing and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

“A lot of times economic development doesn’t always care about lines on a map. The money’s going to flow in all directions and I think another way is via tourism,” Stewart said.

Skelton also mentioned many assets New Hampshire has that he thinks could bolster the Boston bid. While the actual jobs would be in Massachusetts, some of the employees may favor the Granite State’s lower cost of living and strong housing market when they decide on where to live.

Another strong point Skelton noted was how much easier it is to get around in New Hampshire than the congestion of greater Boston.

“Accessibility overall is one of our strongest assets,” Skelton said. “It’s one of the reasons that I think New Hampshire’s bid for Amazon was so compelling.”

Skelton said the accessibility advantage also includes the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which can be much easier to get in and out of than Boston’s Logan International. Skelton said he could see the Manchester airport drawing more travelers as well as the increased freight traffic Amazon would bring.

Until Amazon announces a final decision, which should come this year, the potential benefits, or downsides, remain speculation. Stewart said state leaders came up with a strong pitch that could also catch the attention of other companies regardless of Amazon’s decision.

“I think it’s a great recruiting tool,” Stewart said. “It served a great purpose by allowing the state to put down in one document all the advantages of doing business in New Hampshire and what bringing business to New Hampshire affords.”


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