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NH pitch for 50,000 Amazon jobs will likely focus on Londonderry site

Union Leader Correspondent

October 17. 2017 7:34PM
Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in New York City on Jan. 29, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo)

State and Londonderry officials appear at June’s groundbreaking for Woodmont Commons, the likely focus of a pitch to Amazon, which is searching for a second headquarters location. (MELISSA PROULX/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — New Hampshire is putting out the welcome mat Wednesday morning for the world's largest internet-based retailer.

Hoping to attract the company's newest headquarters to Londonderry, the state's recruitment pitch to e-commerce giant Amazon will likely focus on the Woodmont Commons development.

Gov. Chris Sununu, Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell and Londonderry officials will present their proposal from the State House in Concord.

While officials are tight-lipped on details in the proposal to recruit Amazon's "HQ2," the Woodmont Commons project has about 600 acres bordering Interstate 93. Londonderry approved the development in September 2013, though it generated some opposition because of its removal of a large apple orchard. Developers point to the growth potential at the site, which includes plans for commercial, retail and residential use.

"We have land in mind, shovel-ready, land in mind that's already zoned appropriately for what they're looking for," Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said Tuesday. "I think if Amazon takes a hard look, a serious look at all the proposals that come in, I think New Hampshire has a very good chance of making it into the next round."

Woodmont will have an estimated 1,300 new housing units upon completion, as well as a hospital, school, walking trails and connection to an existing park-and-ride commuter facility. And that's only Londonderry — all towns in the region would likely see an uptick in the real estate market given the number of workers Amazon expects to bring to the new facility.

"There's no question the economic benefit is to all of southern New Hampshire. All surrounding communities will benefit greatly," Smith said.

Amazon, currently headquartered in Seattle, has asked cities and states to submit proposals to the tech giant by Thursday for a secondary location that could include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The Londonderry site is also near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which New Hampshire officials think will sweeten the deal.

Portions of the plan call for development in Manchester near the airport.

"The leadership at the state level has really driven this effort and I commend them for their coordination and ensuring that we, as a region, put our best foot forward," said Mayor Ted Gatsas.

Competition for the corporate complex has been fierce.

New Jersey offered tax breaks. Other states highlight financial incentives or local amenities such as recreational activities. One town in Georgia even offered to use 345 acres to create a new city they would christen "Amazon."

Massachusetts could have up to 20 bids, including Lawrence, Worcester and Boston. The capital city, with its growing tech sector and higher education options, is seen as a top destination.

But Boston's strength is incorporated into New Hampshire's draw — a regional workforce and easy-to-access infrastructure.

New Hampshire could benefit from Boston's drawbacks — a lack of affordable housing and daily white-knuckle traffic jams.

Londonderry also has available land that is properly zoned for such a development, items that are on Amazon's request list.

"When I started going down the list, we actually checked off a lot of the boxes here," Smith said. "I think the pitch here is we have all the benefits of Boston without any of the problems."

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