By Paul Thompson
If there was ever any doubt, Mayor Sly James revealed just how serious he is about convincing Amazon to build its second national headquarters in Kansas City with a series of social media videos released on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11.
The videos highlight the #KC5stars campaign, an attempt to capture Amazon’s attention by convincing Kansas City residents to get on social media and tell Amazon why they love Kansas City. The City is asking residents to add the #KC5stars hashtag to their five-star reviews with the hopes of causing a splash large enough for the Seattle-based company to take notice. KCMO Mayor Sly James kicked off the campaign by buying 1,000 products through Amazon for Kansas City charities, writing KC-themed reviews for each of the purchases. The reviews have been made available on a new web site, kc5stars.com.
Cities throughout the country have until October 19 to respond to Amazon’s Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting bidders to participate in the race for 50,000 high-paying jobs at its $5 billion HQ2 facility.
On a five-star review for Fiber One cereal, Mayor James takes an opportunity to tout Kansas City’s fiber internet connectivity. The Amazon RFP explicitly stated that “Ensuring optimal fiber connectivity is paramount at our HQ2 location,” and asked that all interested cities demonstrate the fiber connectivity for all submitted sites in their bids.
“We have a saying in my hometown that ‘you can never have too much Fiber,'” James wrote in his Fiber One review. “That’s how we keep things moving here in Kansas City, home to some of the fastest internet connections on the planet thanks to more fiber per capita than anywhere else in the US. Except for maybe inside this box of Fiber One, which also really keeps me moving.”
In a review for Luvs Ultra Leakguards diapers, James touted the family-friendly bona fides of Kansas City.
“I haven’t worn diapers in decades, but as the mayor of Kansas City, the nation’s number 7 city to raise a family, I do represent tens of thousands of babies who depend on their diaper’s leak-guard technology to make it through the day,” James wrote.
James sprinkled similar Kansas City trivia into reviews of dog treats, wind chimes, children’s books, Halloween costumes, and many more products. Embedded within the reviews are fun facts, anecdotes, and Kansas City rankings in a variety of categories. Cheesy, maybe, but James is happy to take the plunge if it helps propel Kansas City into the conversation for HQ2.
“If this helps us get in the finals of Amazon HQ2, that’s great,” said James. “If not, we’ll still be proud of this city’s future, and a few of us will be a wind chime or two richer.”
Amazon announced its intention to build a second national headquarters in early September. Within the RFP document which accompanied that initial press release, the company indicated a preference to work with creative, business-friendly metropolitan areas with more than one million residents. In a press release sent by the Mayor’s office on Wednesday afternoon, James expounded upon what drove him to make the creative pitch to Amazon.
“Putting our three key strengths – our thriving entrepreneurial culture, our highly-educated workforce and our award-winning quality of life – into a bulleted list might not work, but putting them in a review, now that’s what people trust,” said Mayor James.
The RFP also calls for bidding cities to have access to mass transit at the HQ2 site, with additional access to highways or major arterials no more than 1-2 miles away. KCMO Communications Director Chris Hernandez said at the time that the decision to enter the Amazon bidding was a no-brainer for Kansas City.
“I think basically as soon as everyone saw the announcement by Amazon, it’s pretty clear that Kansas City should be a strong contender for this,” Hernandez said. “Obviously it’s going to be a strong competition. I just think that given the first burst of information about this process, Kansas City has a lot of what they’re looking for.”