Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Amazon HQ2

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Oct 23, 2017 8:00 PM

On the Tuesday October 24th, 2017 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

The bids are in for Amazon's second headquarters - the numbers are well known by now.  $5 billion in investment.  50,000 jobs.  Six figure salaries.  And of course, the bragging rights.  The heavy hitters lined up - Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago.  Some smaller markets tossed their hats in the ring - Birmingham, Alabama.  Gary, Indiana.  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Amazon has some pretty stringent requirements; obviously, transportation is key.  HQ2, as it is being called, needs to be within close proximity to a population center of 1 million or more people.  Access to overland shipping, rail and airports are primary requirements.  Amazon is also looking for a market to support its corporate culture.

A concentration of universities, a well-developed tech corridor, mass transit and living standards are also considerations.  Amazon's request for proposal emphasized a commitment to sustainability and demands the "presence and support of a diverse population, excellent institutions of higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company, among other attributes."

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce feels the state's capital is a prime location for this venture.  Dave Black, president of the chamber told PennLive in September "We're doing some outreach to colleges and universities to see what the numbers look like for filling jobs . . . we want it [the bid] to be competitive."  Harrisburg will also be competing with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the bid.

Some markets are promising colossal tax abatements - others are relying on gimmicks to attract the attention of the online retail giant.  Tuscon sent a 21 foot cactus; Stonecrest, Georgia offered to change the name of their city.  Charlotte, North Carolina declared October 18th an unofficial Amazon holiday.  Harrisburg is leaning on its assets:  low unemployment, quality secondary educational institutions, existing infrastructure and a low cost of living were the primary selling points.

On Tuesday, Smart Talk discusses the Amazon bid and the realities of competing with the rest of the nation for the tech industry's brass ring with Dave Black and Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.


David Black - President & CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation / Gene Barr - President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Smart Talk encourages you to join the conversation by calling the program at 800-729-7532 or via email at  Follow us on twitter at @SmartTalkWITF.


- What is Harrisburg thinking ?

We do not have the infrastructure to support such a project.

We have had traffic gridlock problems for years with no solution.

If Amazon did come in, all housing rentals would be taken, and rental rates would skyrocket along with home prices .

Anf what dkes amazon or any corporation need with a second headquarters ? Could your quests please discuss this ?                                           - John, Carlisle

- What did it cost to submit a proposal?                                                          - Linda

- Has anyone considered how having Amazon here would affect our already crumbling roads?

Also, the "lot" on elmerton avenue the guest mention is the Dauphin County Community garden plot as well as the Airplane club field; did their proposal consider the displacement of those groups within our community?   - anon

- Many of these bid processes require a lot from host city... adding roads, paying for renovations or construction, tax abatement or agreeing to no taxes for period of time, etc?

How much is being asked of host city as part of this new HQ deal? What costs or requirements will city, county or state have to make to get this done?

If they outline these, follow up with question of "are we capable of handling the lift of financial commitment to seal the deal?"

And "Who would pay for these financial commitments?"                             - Rick, Harrisburg

PA has the third largest carbon footprint in the nation - behind Texas & California

  • There are more jobs in Solar alone in PA than all of the jobs in fossil fuels combined
  • Methane - there are more than one methane lobbyist for every legislators on the Hill 
  • Harrisburg has not signed the American Pledge to uphold the Paris Agreement (there are 7)
  • PA - the state has not signed the American Pledge
  • Clean Energy is the 'fuel' for the New Economy - trouble is, the fossil fuel industry has been unwilling to invest in a clean energy future - they are entrenched in our political and business community.                                                       - Char, Enola

- Jeff Bezos will not bring his company to a region that has a predominately white supremacist an anti-intellectua culture.  Not going to happen. This region doesn't have the amenities that he will be looking for.   - Matt, York

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