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Local Tech Sector Reacts to Pittsburgh Making Amazon HQ2 Top 20 List

Thought Leader
After months of conjecture, waiting and hoping, Pittsburgh received word last week that it made the Amazon HQ2 Top 20 list putting international recognition on the city. So now the competition increases as the city makes it case for the top 5 and to become the new Amazon HQ2. We asked Pittsburgh Technology Council members and other in the tech/business community about making the top five. Here what they had to say.

Jerry Pompa, Compunetix:

Why Pittsburgh? One of America’s original melting pot cities. Vibrant and growing city center. Beautiful outdoor spaces and activities for all ages. The trails. Tech-friendly environment. Some of the country’s best educational institutions. A number-one airport. Low crime. World-class healthcare. Family friendly. Affordable housing. Research. The food/bev scene. Vibrant sports and cultural community.... Because we welcome it

Tasha Gideon, Verrah:

We chose Pittsburgh as our own expansion location for the same reasons that probably put it on Amazon’s short list. It’s a fantastic town. While Pittsburgh is already host to Google, Uber and other heavy-hitters in tech, Amazon HQ2’s colossal economic impact will likely ripple out to vulnerable communities, possibly with unintended consequences. We hope maintaining affordable housing for families has a place in the plan.

Ronald L. Reyer, Jr. MBA:

Pittsburgh will be an excellent choice for Amazon to establish their HQ2. Geographically, we are center amongst the 20 finalists and most central from a transportation perspective to the rest of the eastern seaboard. Other finalists with excellent odds include Atlanta or Philadelphia. Pittsburgh remains the most centered of these three and has excellent airport development potential, rail service, rail service corridors, quality of life, affordable and abundant housing, major research university presence second only to Silicon Valley and recreational opportunities from wet to mountainous and everything in between. If awarded, there will be substantial adjustment to existing employers, communities and schools as rapid growth will be inevitable.

Dick Zhang, Identified Technologies:

Identified is really excited about the possibilities for Pittsburgh. Making the top 20 is a recognition of what we already know, namely that the city has top-tier talent, and an excellent culture for technology.

Jason Wolfe,

I believe Pittsburgh will make the final 5, and depending on a few things, might be the second headquarters for Amazon. What are the things to get us to the top 5? We are a metro area with a cool city vibe going on. We have universities for Amazon to recruit new talent from and for current talent to seek higher education easily. Pittsburgh has a large, vibrant, technology sector with one of the country’s most involved tech councils! We have world-class hospitals for Amazon to offer as an excellent benefit to its employees. We have an international airport that can handle the increased traffic that Amazon would bring. Some of the executives are from Pittsburgh and that will help, I believe as well, as it’s only a 4-hour drive from D.C. where Jeff Bezos has a home. I realize other competing cities have similar amenities, so it will be a hard decision for Amazon. But, I believe the story of Amazon helping to rebuild the world leader in steel (the core fabric of our United States), which now Amazon may view themselves as (the core fabric of the USA) – could be the non tangible that other cities do not have. What better storyline than Amazon being part of the revitalization of our country’s rust belt and the core of our country – if all other factors are equal in the end when the choice is made?

David Radin, Confirmed LLC

Win or lose Amazon HQ2, being in the narrowed group of cities under consideration shows the world even more than ever that Pittsburgh is competitive with the largest cities in North America – in terms of highly educated workforce, access to universities for research, partnership and skilled labor force, proximity to infrastructure and large population centers, and low cost of living. It also highlights that large tech employers looking for a great landing spot can choose from desirable areas that are close to downtown, near an airport and within vibrant neighborhoods that attract millennials. Imagine a corporate campus on the very same spot as the steel mills that ruled America 100 years ago – or attached to an airport that is among the most efficient in the world. No wonder Pittsburgh has been making top 10 list after top 10 list – as rated by outsiders – since it first ranked as the nation’s Most Livable City. Our secret is getting out The Pittsburgh Technology Council's President and CEO Audrey Russo provided insight on the Amazon HQ2 list on KDKA. View it right here.