Is Missouri’s ‘Innovation Corridor’ Enough to Draw Amazon to the State?

By on November 2, 2017

From Government Technology:  From Tucson to Chicago, Mexico to Toronto, 238 cities and states are competing to be home to Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2), an undertaking estimated to generate up to 50,000 jobs and cost at least $5 billion to build.

But when representatives from St. Louis and Kansas City each sought state support for their proposals, Missouri officials made an unusual, Solomonic decision. It backed both cities “equally, impartially and objectively’ — but submitted its own proposal too.

Population is key to Amazon: applying cities must have a base of at least 1 million citizens. But Missouri Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann said the technology and retail company encouraged the state to make its pitch.

Missouri’s request to Amazon: Locate in both St. Louis and Kansas City and be linked along “a 240-mile-long innovation corridor” between the state’s “major economic and innovation centers.”

The connector would be the electric-powered, pneumatic tube train Hyperloop One, which is being studied for feasibility, and could potentially slash commute times from nearly four hours to under 30 minutes.

Employing the principles of magnetic levitation and pneumatic tubes, Hyperloop One is being examined by Colorado, Texas and Missouri. Ryan Weber, president of the Kansas City Tech Council (KCTC), an industrial association for technology companies and regional industry advocate, said an announcement of which entity will do Missouri’s study should come closer to Thanksgiving.

The futuristic train is not a reality yet, said Erdmann, but it’s also “not an outlandish concept.”

“And that led us at the state-level to the conclusion, ‘Well, that would be an interesting idea. Let’s challenge Amazon to be bolder,’” the COO said, pointing out that while Amazon will likely begin standing up HQ2 far sooner, its overall timeline is “focused on decades.”

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