Joel Embiid to Amazon: Philly is 'going to be tough on you'

Joel-Embiid-Amazon
Philadelphia is leaning on Sixers phenom Joel Embiid and other local celebrities to sell the city to Amazon in hopes of landing the company’s second headquarters.

If you hadn’t heard, Philadelphia really, really wants to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

The city has officially submitted its proposal to the online retailer, which revolves around $1 billion in tax breaks and three potential locations for Amazon’s second headquarters campus, nicknamed HQ2: Around the Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square sites in West Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia’s Navy Yard

The city went all out for the bid, leaning on a number of local celebrities in a series of videos aimed at wooing decision-makers in the Seattle-based company to pick the City of Brotherly Love over a slew of other contenders.

“They’re going to be tough on you, but that’s just because they love you and want you to be better,” Sixers star Joel Embiid says in the city’s main video pitch. “It just feels like I’m home, man. I can call this place home for me.”

The city partnered with an “all-Philly team,” including Azavea, Interface Studio, J2 Design, Leveler, Skai Blue Media, and the Tactile Group, to create five separate videos in hopes of putting Philadelphia’s bid over the top. They also created a website, Philadelphia Delivers, which boasts that the city is “in the Goldilocks zone” for all of Amazon’s needs.

Philadelphia’s “Sites” pitch focuses on selling Amazon on the Navy Yard or University City. “Once I got to the Navy Yard and saw what I’d be able to work with from a talent perspective and what I’d be able to show and sell to future associates, it was a no-brainer,” said Matt Strode, the chief talent officer at Urban Outfitters. “Once you see this place, you’re sold.”

“There’s all this cobblestone and these little narrow streets and these quaint buildings,” said Rich Landau, the co-chef and co-owner of Vedge in the city’s “Livability” video pitch. “Once you get out of Philadelphia and see the rest of the United States, you recognize how special Philadelphia is.”

Philadelphia’s “Talent” pitch focuses on the city’s highly educated and diverse workforce that isn’t exactly known for being demure. “You have a community here that doesn’t pull any punches,” said Todd Carmichael, the CEO and co-founder of La Colombe. “If you like to lead with feedback, this is the city to come to, because you’re going to get feedback.”

As far as “Logistics” go, the city leaned on various business owners and executives to tout Philadelphia’s convenient location between New York City and Washington, D.C.

“This central location is fantastic,” said Bill McNabb, the CEO and chairman of Vanguard. “But I don’t have to live in New York or live in Washington, neither of which do I find anywhere near as attractive as this area.”

Amazon is expected to make its decision in 2018.

UPDATE: Philly one of 20 finalists for Amazon HQ2