By: Sean M. Guay
Harrisburg, PA – “The announcement that Amazon would build a $5 billion facility supporting 50,000 jobs immediately lit up social media. Some local citizens and officials suggested that the sprawling, for-sale Harrisburg State Hospital grounds off Cameron Street would be a perfect fit.” – theBurg
However, varying political agendas almost squashed the deal before it gained traction. An essential component of the proposal requires cooperation between Harrisburg Mayor and the president of the Regional Chamber, among other opposing forces.
David Black, president of Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and CREDC initially said: “Harrisburg is too small to put in a bid, but I do think there’s an opportunity to put in a bid with partners in York and Lancaster.”
Harrisburg City Councilman Westburn Majors expressed motivation to engage local government and private entities together in this process. “It is my hope that the administration can work with the county, the commonwealth, local business groups such as the Chamber, CREDC, etc., to determine if putting in an application is something that they would consider,” Majors said.
Brandon Flood and Beau Brown, who are both active in local & state politics, also engaged in the social media conversation. Brown expressed deep interest and insight into the potential Amazon deal, and began drafting preliminary concepts for a proposal in front of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Meanwhile, Bruce P Weber (HBG City Director of Finance) who is very active on social media, often echos the perspective of Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse. The tone of Weber seemed to brush off the Amazon deal as a no-go.
Jennie Jenkins makes an excellent point that preparing and proposing to Amazon executives would serve as a terrific protocol for organizing forces in Harrisburg, and potentially bringing future investment to the region.
Beau Brown flips the script on Weber when he compares former Harrisburg Mayor Steve Reed to the short-falls of the current administration. The City of Harrisburg was transformed under Mayor Steve Reed. He had an unmatched love for Harrisburg and equal drive & determination to get results.
A bold proposal was made by Beau Brown, who offered free services to help draw 50,000 Amazon jobs to Harrisburg. Brown published an advertisement for his proposal stating that in fact Harrisburg can fulfill the requirements, and the posting was circulated around on social media.
Perhaps Harrisburg leaders and CREDC heard the calls of the community, because within 2 weeks, a new twist to the story was reported by Pennlive on 9/25/2017 when David Black says: “We’re pulling apart the RFP Amazon issued to see what we need.”
Harrisburg will partner with Lancaster, York, Cumberland & Lebanon counties to fulfill the metro requirement of the RFP.
Brown says that this is an opportunity to get face-time and build rapport for Harrisburg in front of one of the most powerful corporate owners in the world. Also, this experience will serve as excellent practice for pitching our region to investors. He also makes the point that proposing to Bezos would only be to the potential benefit of Harrisburg and the entire region. We should not pass up such an opportunity, as we are negotiating with an unpredictable entrepreneur, not a legislative body with strict rules to follow.
Beau Brown is uniquely qualified. He has a Reed-like drive and passion for the City of Harrisburg. Brown’s advocacy for the city is evident through the multiple published reports and editorials that have appeared in the Central Penn Business Journal, including this following article where Brown lays out a road map plan to land a deal such as the Amazon headquarters.
If Harrisburg and regional leaders are serious about this huge proposal, Brown’s negotiating and real estate experience should be utilized in making this deal.
Here, in a rare moment of clarity, Weber comes to his senses and recognizes the brilliance and potential in Brown’s proposal:
Original report by theBurg: