Amazon HQ2 in STL Effort

New and changing stores, restaurants, and businesses in the City of St. Louis
First unread post773 posts
Told you so
quincunx wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:59 pm
Think MO's low support for its state universities will be a liability? We'd need a lot more college grads to feed Amazon.
What does this mean?

From the BND artcile
"Employers also said lack of transportation access is a barrier to expansion."
quincunx wrote:What does this mean?

From the BND artcile
"Employers also said lack of transportation access is a barrier to expansion."
Not a hub airport?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
jstriebel wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:36 pm
Here's my question about the supposed talent shortage. Who are these local companies that say they can't find it? Where are they located? What types of salaries and benefits (both insurance wise and work environment wise) are they offering?

I absolutely could be wrong. But I have a feeling that companies in STL complaining about being able to attract talent from the existing regional talent pool as well as national are not making very enticing offers to said talent.

I'm not saying there aren't other reasons they can't find talent, but I don't see much in our business community to make me believe these places are offering what it takes either.
Of course this is part of the story, but this is just a manifestation of the "bad equilibrium" the region is stuck in: the only way to convince current regional employers to offer more enticing terms would be for other employers in the region (i.e. competing in the same labor market) to make more enticing offers. But (and this is the more aggravating problem) the fact is that the employers that are able to attract and retain talent have no interest whatsoever in relocating to St Louis.
That our major employers continue to abandon the city and set up shop in the middle of f*cking nowhere--as Detroit is luring unprecedented numbers of businesses back to their CBD--and then b*tch about not being able to attract talent speaks volumes about the ineptitude/lack of perception of their leadership.
jstriebel wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:36 pm
Here's my question about the supposed talent shortage. Who are these local companies that say they can't find it? Where are they located? What types of salaries and benefits (both insurance wise and work environment wise) are they offering?

I absolutely could be wrong. But I have a feeling that companies in STL complaining about being able to attract talent from the existing regional talent pool as well as national are not making very enticing offers to said talent.

I'm not saying there aren't other reasons they can't find talent, but I don't see much in our business community to make me believe these places are offering what it takes either.
So here's a not so dirty not so secret: my wife is an immigrant working on a masters in supply chain economics. I am particularly struck by something a well connected local business insider said to her during a recruiting session: he didn't normally advise non-native sorts to pursue supply chain degrees, because they're a little more specific than MBAs and local companies don't tend to hire immigrants. I believe he implied they don't want the hassle of sponsoring someone on an H visa, with the rigamarole that entails, but the specific word he used was "conservative." (And I don't take this to mean politically, but rather culturally.) Is it possible too many of our local business leaders are just living in the past? That they could attract the talent quite easily if they'd but put out a shingle at local schools filled with foreign students? (Though, yes, they would have to deal with some paperwork and maybe hire an immigration attorney or two. And of course national politics can always screw things up locally. Royally.) It's worth noting that the coder companies were (and are) the ones pushing so hard for more open immigration. At least by reputation they're pretty solid on the H visa process. Maybe they don't realize we have a tech pipeline because the people coming out of that pipeline do not, by and in large, land here. We know we need to find a way to change that. No reason for us to water Silicon Valley's lawns. (Well, not with the clean water, anyway. If they want to buy our "grey" water that's fine.) Maybe the place to start fixing that isn't city hall . . . but a handful of local boardrooms. (Or HR offices.)
^That was my point. We currently have a good (albeit small scale) source of talent: WashU. A very significant fraction of that talent is international - if you come to the US on a F1 or J1 student visa you will typically have a one year grace period for work (OPT/CPT, maybe a couple years if your degree is STEM), but then you either find an employer willing to sponsor your H visa or you have to leave the country.
Typically only very large corporations will have a well oiled legal apparatus to deal with H-visa sponsorship. While I have no hard data on this, I would guess that the only companies that would be doing this in the St Louis area would be companies in the same tier as Anheuser-Busch, Boeing or Monsanto. The total costs of sponsoring and processing H-visas can be quite large even for medium sized companies (I am not talking only of direct processing costs but of having to hire a specialized legal team etc).
And these are just pecuniary costs. Once you add in the overall cultural (and political, they are correlated) conservatism on the employer's side, you can understand why they are reluctant to tap into this talent pool and why the city ends up letting most of it go away. Political and cultural issues tend to be trumped by economic efficiency at very large corporations, so these end up being the only ones actively sourcing international talent in the area.
In summary: it is typically quite hard to legally find a job if you are a qualified foreigner, many of the people who get advanced degrees in the US would like to stay but often cannot.
^It was very much my impression that local employers in that tier, coequal with Boeing, Monsanto, or AB-Inbev, do not sponsor terribly many H visas. (And to be frank, there are quite a few companies locally that could. The three above, Emerson, BJC, Express Scrips, AG Edwards, Enterprise, Charter. Really, anyone big enough to be in the fortune 500 could. But my impression is that not all due. And while I believe there is a correlation between cultural and political conservatism I don't necessarily want to go into that right now. I suspect it's real. I've seen some statistics. But I also don't think it's inevitable or important to this argument.

And I've a remarkably good idea of what paperwork is involved and how much lawyering is required, and I'm incredibly confident more companies could (and should) afford it than do. Sure, it's a nasty pile of paperwork. No question. And the sponsorship requirements are not trivial. But they're not herculean. I very much suspect even small companies could pull it off if sufficiently motivated. Not without retaining a lawyer, of course. But if you're willing to hire an attorney to help you incorporate . . .

So here's a thought: maybe the city could invest in an office to help smaller local companies find and retain talent. And maybe a part of that could be hiring an immigration attorney or two for that office. Could be a useful incentive, if such a thing is not already present. Of course, companies will still have to offer pay that potential employees find attractive. It's not a magic bullet, but it could help.

Further, we already discussed in this thread that the local tech talent pipeline extends well beyond Wash U. Sure, that's the fancy school. But there are a solid dozen within a few hours drive that crank out graduates in technical fields.
Its nice to see other people catching on. The "tech talent shortage" meme needs to die. There isn't one. Not in St. Louis, and not in Silicon Valley.

What there is a shortage of, are unicorns. Companies, and especially companies in St. Louis, are extremely averse to training new employees. To a certain extent, they would simply rather not hire anyone at all than have someone come in that is even up to 90% of what they are asking for. They will really only hire if you are a unicorn, the perfect candidate. You might be an experienced and accomplished developer, but lack direct production experience with a particular framework (even though you have used the underlying language and methodology for years). HR will no-go it.

If that sounds stupid to you, you're right. As others have said above, StL companies are pretty conservative when it comes to risk. That absolutely is the case with StL tech, perhaps even more so.

Silicon Valley is more "with it" in the sense of not being pants-on-head retarded like StL tech companies, so a lot of our regional best and brightest move there either immediately post graduation, or wisen up and make the move a few years into dealing with the crap StL has to offer.

Get on the stl-tech slack channel and see for yourself how pissed some of the tech people in StL are. For most of them, the question isn't if they will move, but when. Myself, I was able to care out a pretty independent niche, but that isn't nearly for everybody. It does give me an outside view on the stupid bullsh*t your typical tech 9-5 worker here has to go through.

This is a deep-seated cultural problem with the business climate here. I honestly don't know how to fix it, my only idea right now is simply to raise awareness.
Aesir wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:43 pm
Its nice to see other people catching on. The "tech talent shortage" meme needs to die. There isn't one. Not in St. Louis, and not in Silicon Valley.

What there is a shortage of, are unicorns. Companies, and especially companies in St. Louis, are extremely averse to training new employees. To a certain extent, they would simply rather not hire anyone at all than have someone come in that is even up to 90% of what they are asking for. They will really only hire if you are a unicorn, the perfect candidate. You might be an experienced and accomplished developer, but lack direct production experience with a particular framework (even though you have used the underlying language and methodology for years). HR will no-go it.

If that sounds stupid to you, you're right. As others have said above, StL companies are pretty conservative when it comes to risk. That absolutely is the case with StL tech, perhaps even more so.

Silicon Valley is more "with it" in the sense of not being pants-on-head retarded like StL tech companies, so a lot of our regional best and brightest move there either immediately post graduation, or wisen up and make the move a few years into dealing with the crap StL has to offer.

Get on the stl-tech slack channel and see for yourself how pissed some of the tech people in StL are. For most of them, the question isn't if they will move, but when. Myself, I was able to care out a pretty independent niche, but that isn't nearly for everybody. It does give me an outside view on the stupid bullsh*t your typical tech 9-5 worker here has to go through.

This is a deep-seated cultural problem with the business climate here. I honestly don't know how to fix it, my only idea right now is simply to raise awareness.
Agree with everything here.

But, this 2018. Use of the word 'retard' is really unacceptable.
^^Interesting info, I don't think I've heard this before. Curious if you're talking tech companies who's revenue is directly generated from tech products/services (e.g. Asynchrony, Boeing engineering) or IT in various businesses across the board (e.g. your Monsanto's, Enterprises', etc) or both?
San Luis Native wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:43 pm
^^Interesting info, I don't think I've heard this before. Curious if you're talking tech companies who's revenue is directly generated from tech products/services (e.g. Asynchrony, Boeing engineering) or IT in various businesses across the board (e.g. your Monsanto's, Enterprises', etc) or both?
It is both. Small startups will probably be a bit better about it, large companies will be even worse. Directly tech-related will probably be a bit better, non-tech related will probably be worse.

It's generally the same across the board though. Small variations either way.
Seattle has passed a new $275 per employee tax on large employers, outraging Amazon and others:

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/seat ... 06359.html
.0062% of their yearly revenue to help take a bite out of the homelessness problem they helped create.

Seems pretty cheap to me
So by employing 45,000 people Amazon has helped create homelessness. It’s an interesting thesis.

This policy seems like it would incentivize companies to move to the suburbs. Apple and Google have armies of employees in Cupertino and Mountain View, and no problem attracting talent, no homelessness to speak of in either municipality and no threat of taxation for high home prices that they’ve “caused”.

I suppose it’s basically equivalent to Seattle introducing a .25% earnings tax. Except it’s paid directly by the employers, instead of their employees, and it only applies to companies with $20 million in revenue (about 600 companies).

We’ve all seen how that works out. Might be a good time to invest in Bellevue real estate.
^ I think the time to invest in Bellevue was a few years ago as house prices have increased pretty much across Seattle into the burbs if not mistaken

My two cents from my new home in the Bay/live in East Bay & work in Marin. Amazon like tech success in bay area doesn't cause homeless problem but would agree that increasing housing prices/rents is happening because of their success to bring in jobs beyond regions capabilities to add housing and the transportation infrastructure.

I wouldn't say their not a homeless problem in Silicon Valley cities/burbs such as Mountainview as I have noticed it more and more in the affluent areas of East Bay and everywhere else if your really start looking and it is even easier to find cars that have the lived in look or the older RV(s) moving from street to street.

Nor is all about the Burbs for big Tech companies in the Bay area. Salesforce has started moving into their new San Fran Salesforce Tower next to the new Transbay Center. In meantime, Facebook is just about to sign San Fran's biggest lease of the year at 750,000 sq ft nearby and next to the new Transbay Center as well. Both Salesforce and Facebook will have big work forces that will be within easy walking distance of BART. Google next huge campus is going in Downtown SJ for which they have gobbled up a lot of property and will have access to host of transit services as well as future BART extension and possible HSR.

Apple, I just think their space ship is actually behind the times because for all the hype of sustainable, green, solar roof, etc its work force is still as auto centric as you can get in a region with clogged freeways and bridges. Hopefully their expansion plans outside of Bay area will be something better then a round building that keeps reality out (including the homeless out) and encourages an almost cult like worship to Steve Jobs in the middle. Maybe St Louis north riverfront instead of say Austin as their center and model for advance manufacturing instead. But not putting much faith in a meaningful leap other then profit making from Apple.
Im starting to develop doubts about this entire charade.

I'm sure Amazon wants a second corporate office. I'm almost certain it will go in DC. I'm positive it will never employ 50,000 people.

I think we've all been had. I think Amazon has always known where it will go. I think Amazon just got every city and state (except Little Rock) to pull up their skirt free of charge. Why hire people to provide billions of dollars worth of fact finding about every piece of interesting real estate in North America, and the possilbe accompanying incentives, when the tax payers will do it for them?

Sad.
^Timely
BellaVilla wrote: Im starting to develop doubts about this entire charade.

I'm sure Amazon wants a second corporate office. I'm almost certain it will go in DC. I'm positive it will never employ 50,000 people.
I don't think the numbers will be too far off when all said and done.

Don't got a whole lot to work off to back it up. But thought is was interesting when listening to business news after Google & Twitter but not Facebook had made their appearance on the hill this past week. One comment while listening to one of the business cable networks was Facebook had added some 20,000 employees as of late and the added cost to go with it just to keep up. Understand, Amazon and Facebook two different companies and business models but can't help to think Amazon is only getting bigger, will make more acquisitions and need to have a lot more troops.

The other thing expressed was that Twitter was behind the eight ball in needing employees to manage its platform content and investors should expect some forthcoming cost to hit its bottom line. Understand that they added more space in San Fran but know of a single tenant tower in Jack Dorsey hometown that would be a very good fit and cost friendly in my very speculative opinion.
dredger wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:00 pm

I don't think the numbers will be too far off when all said and done.

Don't got a whole lot to work off to back it up. But thought is was interesting when listening to business news after Google & Twitter but not Facebook had made their appearance on the hill this past week. One comment while listening to one of the business cable networks was Facebook had added some 20,000 employees as of late and the added cost to go with it just to keep up. Understand, Amazon and Facebook two different companies and business models but can't help to think Amazon is only getting bigger, will make more acquisitions and need to have a lot more troops.
...
i agree. just saw an article in sperling's best places that predicts a location in the suburbs of northern virginia... waaaay out in the suburbs actually. the hypothesis was based on a number of things but the most interesting one was ...

"By locating outside the city, land is much cheaper and office buildings can be built and clustered as desired, rather than shoehorned into existing spaces. With a clean slate, architects and planners can create new communities and neighborhoods which incorporate smart homes and streets which are friendly to alternative transportation. With new homes comes the opportunity to use them as test beds for new Amazon products and services such as drones and autonomous vehicles, cashier-free stores, and in-home package delivery."

who knows though?
Wait so our goofy af bi-state proposal was as idiotic and off target as it seemed? Great.

You mean Amazon wasn't interested in choked off pieces the North Riverfront and a blighted floodplain in the metro east?

Sounds like the best site for StL may have actually been along the metrolink in the Metro East.
That or Amazon was deliberately misleading in its RRP in order that they could better sucker government into giving them more. And so that they could seem more green and less like a robot Wal-Mart for hipsters.

Honestly, the St. Louis proposal seemed pretty darned solid to me. There were great incentives. It was well structured. It looked slick. But . . . Bezos and his board were playing everyone. Which is more or less what boards are paid to do.
symphonicpoet wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:10 am

Honestly, the St. Louis proposal seemed pretty darned solid to me. There were great incentives. It was well structured. It looked slick. But . . . Bezos and his board were playing everyone. Which is more or less what boards are paid to do.
Symphonic got me thinking as well as the cost of business with coastal cities that the City/State should go back to their Amazon proposal and maybe downsize & rebrand it if the powers to be haven't already. More specifically, base it around the One ATT center/City Garden and brand it as Big Tech Satellite Campus!! Couple of things you could do

1) Provide a ready made incentive package if you lease say 75% of One ATT and or fill it with say 3000 jobs in x years. In other words, a downsized Boeing package from a few years ago remade for Big Tech. Give optional incentives for leasing additional space within the region.
2) Include a structured parking garage with private green/roof top garden as part of the package. You can either build on the gateway mall block just west of City Garden and or buy out empty lot on north of One ATT now to offer structured parking garage (kinda like CVC buying out property to the west for convention space expansion)
3) Commitment by city to give City Garden a remake.
4) Provide annual Metro passes for the first two years - with its direct connection to Lambert via metrolink
5) Provide incentives to facilitate additional air service, additional daily flights for the first two or three years from Lambert to the Corporate HQ
6) Between RX building, BPV and so their is plenty of room to highlight how an urban campus could be established in downtown in near and long term growth at a fraction of the cost relative to most coastal cities.

What I'm angling at is put together a NA HQ package for Jack Dorsey/Twitter without saying it. In other words, pitch a package to convince Jack that he can still have his San Fran World HQ, presence as well as a more cost effective business model with St. Louis base NA corporate HQ. At the same time, you have a ready made incentive package for any Big Tech to establish a satellite office in fly over country even if it is more customer service driven than say software engineering.

Might not be able to sell St. Louis as a place to land a huge Amazon campus but getting 3-5,000 jobs back to downtown would be a big win and garner a lot of recognition. Might also help kick off another round of downtown projects.