ST. LOUIS - Fifteen hour days, advertising and construction firms working for free, and co-operation across county lines. It's a massive effort to land Amazon's new $5 billion headquarters and at least 50,000 well-paying new jobs that wold come with it.
As the October deadline to turn in proposals to the online retail giant, those familiar with the St. Louis pitch say the region has a real shot in the nationwide competition.
And it turns out some of the aspects of St. Louis that locals may bemoan may actually be selling points to Amazon.
"It will be a really robust, exciting, and creative proposal that we put forth that Amazon can't ignore," says Sheila Sweeney the CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
Sweeney points to St. Louis Lambert International Airport as an asset.
Amazon employees will need flights and a lot of them for their new headquarters, and not many large city airports can add the kind of capacity Amazon will need.
St. Louis, however, has a virtually empty concourse and unused runway allowing airlines to easily add flights.
St. Louis also has land in an urban setting that's relatively inexpensive and accessible by light rail - an Amazon requirement.
And those putting together the pitch say St. Louis City, County, and St. Clair County, Ill. are all working together with one possible site for Amazon to build located on the Illinois downtown riverfront.
"It's multiple counties and it's bi-state and that is a first for us maybe and really a tremendous advantage," says Sweeney.
But the cooperation isn't without some questions. St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann recently raised concerns over whether proposed sites in his part of the region are under serious consideration by those leading the effort lure Amazon.
Ehlmann concedes St. Charles County lacks a specific mass transit requirement in Amazon's request for proposals. But with a larger population and faster job growth than the city of St. Louis, he said other factors may be more important.
"What sort of weight are we going to give to mass transit? What sort of weight are we going to give to low crime?" he says he's asking of the proposal leaders.
"If there's an objective process then I'm confident when it's over whoever wins the rest of us can get behind it," said Ehlmann.
Amazon's deadline for proposals is mid-October but Sweeney says she hopes to have the St. Louis pitch ready by the first week of the month to allow time to package and deliver it.
Amazon is expected to make a decision sometime in 2018.
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