Denver ranked fourth by geeks for Amazon HQ2

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 7/16/18

Many people have been following the largest economic development seduction (or perhaps incentive) game that has taken on a life of its own. Amazon announced numerous months ago that it was on the …

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Denver ranked fourth by geeks for Amazon HQ2


Many people have been following the largest economic development seduction (or perhaps incentive) game that has taken on a life of its own.

Amazon announced numerous months ago that it was on the prowl to locate a second headquarters for their mammoth operations. Twenty cities were initially “in the hunt” offering Amazon anything from their first born (just kidding) to millions and billions of dollars in various types of incentives. Cities and states are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on site-selection consultants, quirky stunts and highly produced videos and graphics to win Amazon’s attention, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon has said that the HQ2 would house 50,000 employees when totally up and running. It is said that Amazon truly cares about what techies think. That certainly stands to reason when so many of the 50,000 jobs would entail various degrees of computer programming and related fields.

So, what did Amazon go and do to find out what the tech savvy folks thought of the contending HQ2 sites?

Geek survey points toward Raleigh, NC

They utilized a well-read tech site known as to conduct a survey.

The focus was on which city tech savvy workers would most prefer to live. The results ranked Raleigh, N.C. first, Atlanta, GA. second, Austin, TX third and Denver fourth.

What is even more interesting is that a different focused survey on housing market ranking had Raleigh first and Atlanta second. This survey was conducted by Attom Data Solutions using housing affordability, crime rate, schools and property taxes.

As I have previously stated, I believe Amazon HQ2 would be too much of an impact on the Denver metropolitan area with too many negative factors. I believe Atlanta would be a better choice than Raleigh if for no other reason that the scale of the insertion of 50,000 new jobs with all of the related issues that would go with the employees i.e. housing availability, traffic, driving up property values and other factors would be too much for Raleigh to absorb.

However, according to the New York Post, Amazon has already settled on the Northern Virginia/Montgomery County, Maryland/Washington D.C. area.

EPA secretary Pruitt is gone

One of President Trump’s better decisions was to send EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt packing. While we know that Pruitt was diligent in following the President’s marching orders on environmental issues such as climate change being a hoax, elevating coal mining, dropping the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and more, he had fundamentally poor judgment on matters pertaining to himself and his personal life.

For example, the $43,000 sound proof phone booth installed at EPA headquarters, the sweetheart apartment lease from an environmental lobbyist, always flying first class at taxpayer expense and having government officials seeking to find his wife a six-figure salary job to name a few of his poor judgment calls or perhaps not caring to adhere to rules and expectations in the public arena.

Anyway, Pruitt became damaged goods early on, but the President let it ride too long. His own Chief of Staff John Kelly had tried for some time to have Trump fire Pruitt.

Poor judgement did him in

One of President Trump’s worst decisions was to hire Pruitt. Just because someone agrees with you on a political or philosophical level, does not mean the person is capable of being an effective administrator or ethnical in his conduct and behavior or able to lead by example.

While I have not seen statistics on Trump’s turnover rate among key appointments which he has made, I would surmise that he probably has the worst record on the number of people who have either been fired or chose to leave on their own volition.

I certainly recognize that there are many pressures on any president in hiring specific people for specific high level positions. Heavy hitter contributors to the president and the party are high on the list.

However, ultimately, the president should realize that his key staff is a reflection on him— good or bad. Plus, he needs someone or a whole cadre of staff to properly vet prospective candidates for the key jobs including U.S. Supreme Court judges.

Let’s hope his track record gets better as things move ahead. After all, he is no longer the guy on “The Apprentice” who is firing people.

Northglenn’s track record is puzzling

Finally, speaking of turnover and people leaving, another city manager in Northglenn has bit the dust. Jim Hayes had served in the position for approximately two years and from what I could tell was doing a capable job.

Certainly his orchestration on the planning of new municipal facilities and creating new economic development opportunities seemed to be going well. Also, he was the point man on the Ralston House cooperative endeavor.

What is it with the number of city managers which Northglenn has gone through over the years? Could it be the water? No, they get their water from Clear Creek just like other area municipalities such as Westminster, Thornton and Arvada. Could it be the financial stress given the limited ability to grow and develop? Perhaps. Is it false expectations of the city councils who have hired and fired city managers over the years? Perhaps. Is it insufficient vetting of the city manager candidates by staff and city council? Certainly that was the case with one Northglenn city manager several years ago.

Anyway, there are various factors which could have contributed to their track record.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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