A team from both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois will head to Seattle Tuesday, as the full-court press to bring the new Amazon headquarters to Chicago continues to heat up.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the joint delegation Monday, saying the group of 10 leaders will be surveying Amazon's main campus "to help determine which Chicago area sites would best fit the company's future needs."
The online giant plans to invest $5 billion in the new site that will eventually house 50,000 employees – a revelation that has caused cities across the U.S. to engage in a charm offensive to lure the company in.
The bids to Amazon are due in roughly one month, which is why the governor and mayor - who often find themselves at odds with one another politically - are working together to offer a united proposal.
"The home run for us and where our real focus is, is given metropolitan Chicago and given the power of O'Hare Airport, our real focus is here," Rauner said at a news conference Monday, fresh from his trip to Japan and China.
Though Deputy Governor Leslie Munger was at Monday's event, Rauner did not mention that she is his point person for the project. Munger will be a part of the delegation, alongside Deputy Mayors of Chicago Bob Rivkin and Andrea Zopp, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and six other business and civic leaders.
Emanuel has made it clear he will personally play a role in the effort.
"We have the universities, we have the aviation system, the public transportation, the lowest cost of living of 10 major cities in the United States, and the cultural diversity," he said Thursday.
Like so many other cities interested in the Amazon bonanza, St. Louis is also preparing a bid. Although he said Chicago is his top priority, Rauner is walking a delicate supportive line in regard to that proposal as well.
"As governor of the entire state of Illinois, St. Louis is also competing and we have major population center in Metro East, we have major strategic transportation advantages in Metro East around the St. Louis area and we will be working in assistance with the St. Louis proposal as well because that could, if St. Louis has some benefits that they bring in terms of their overall package, we want to make sure that Illinois is positioned to be a great benefit of that," Rauner said Monday.
But will Illinois' reputation for chaotic, and even corrupt politics play a role?
"The number one thing we hear over and over again is a quote that frankly Speaker of the House Ryan uses," Democratic State Sen. Melinda Bush, of Grayslake said. "When he talks to the businesses, the first thing he says to them is, 'Do you really want to be in the state of Illinois where they have a dysfunctional government?'"
For now, the delegation's trip is just a fact-finding mission to see what they can learn about which site in Chicago may be the best fit. The city’s bid for the Amazon headquarters is due by Oct. 19, with the decision set to be made next year. Construction on the project - for which several potential Chicago locations have already been floated - would begin in 2019.