Tucson is launching its courtship of online retail giant Amazon by sending a plant — a really big plant.
On Wednesday, Sun Corridor Inc. loaded a 21-foot saguaro cactus on a flat-bed truck to deliver to Jeff Bezos at Amazon in Seattle, in a bid to bring Amazon's planned second headquarters to Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Amazon announced last week that it is planning to build a second corporate headquarters location and says it is considering metropolitan areas with more than 1 million in population.
Sun Corridor is Tucson and Southern Arizona's main economic development group. It is working with state, regional and local partners, to gather information and data to submit a bid to Amazon.
The company says it will hire as many as 50,000 new full-time employees over the next 10 to 15 years and invest more than $5 billion in capital. The new location will include a site that is urban/suburban and require 8 million square feet of space.
Amazon is expected to attract multiple bids including some with rich financial incentives. Since Amazon announced its plans last week, Chicago, Philadelphia and Toronto have announced they will submit bids.
Amazon's request for proposals is due Oct. 19, with a decision expected in 2018.
"We wanted to make sure Mr. Bezos and his team notice us and send a message of 'we have room for you to grow here for the long term' — nothing signifies that better than a saguaro," Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., said in a news release.
Snell said Sun Corridor will work with Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Commerce Authority to submit a strong case.
Dave Hutchens, chairman of Sun Corridor Inc. and president and CEO of UNS Energy Corp., noted that Tucson beat out several cities for Caterpillar's new Surface Mining and Technology Division headquarters, which is under construction downtown.
Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, said that together with Raytheon and other local companies, Tucson “will demonstrate that we have the right assets to win this deal,” citing available land, workforce, logistics and “the enterprising and entrepreneurial can-do attitude the innovative world-leader in business needs.”
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said that when Tucson made the short list for Tesla's electric-car "gigafactory" last year, it woke many people up to the city's potential.
“We have a strong tech workforce and an active entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re a center for trade, transportation and logistics," Rothschild said. "Plus, we have outstanding quality of life. I don’t see any other city that has our exact set of advantages.”