Could a pitch built around the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology win the century’s biggest industrial prize - the new Mark 2 Amazon headquarters with a promised 50,000 jobs?
That’s the powerful thought behind a column by Boston Globe writer Shirley Leung this weekend.
Leung points out, that more than anything, Amazon boss Bezos prizes innovation. “Whether it’s robots or rockets, MIT has been at the center of cutting-edge, world-changing inventions.”
Yet says Leung, “As far as I can tell, the university doesn’t appear to be part of a bid. Is that something the school would even consider?”
MIT president Rafael Reif told Leung he thinks Seattle-based Amazon should build a major outpost here.
In a statement to the Boston Globe, Reid said, “MIT enthusiastically welcomes the prospect of Amazon coming to Massachusetts, and would support an effort to bring Amazon to the region.
“Together with many institutions and companies across the region, we are advancing robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas of technology that are important to Amazon,” Reif said .
“The tremendous opportunities for collaboration make the Greater Boston region an ideal location for Amazon to create its second corporate headquarters.”
You can’t hope for a more positive statement than that.
Leung says if Massachusetts wants to win when the bids go to Amazon in two weeks — not just make it to the finals — MIT needs to play a starring role in the bid.
“Yes, it’s in Cambridge, which means Boston would need to learn how to share,” says Leung.
Until now most Boston area speculation has entered on the former giant Sussex Downs racetrack which a few years back failed in its attempt to attract a giant casino.
Leung heads in a different direction . She says “I’m not proposing a corporate takeover of MIT. Consider this: An Amazon innovation center could be part of the Volpe site, which the university owns in Kendall Square and plans to develop into housing, offices, and lab space.
“From there, Amazon could spread out to nearby North Point, where a new neighborhood is rising. The company could reach across to Sullivan Square in Charlestown, where the city and state have parcels that can be redeveloped. Just beyond is Assembly Square in Somerville, which has room for expansion.
Or an Amazon campus could flow from Kendall Square down the Red Line to South Station, which is slated for high-rise development that could support a big hub. That could also spill over to the Fort Point Channel district, where Amazon will open an office next year with 900 employees.
She suggests if Amazon doesn’t want to be in multiple locations, how about bringing a little bit of MIT to Amazon in the form of a satellite lab that could explore the future of everything?
“I single out MIT because it is known globally for innovation, but Massachusetts could craft a pitch with similar partnerships with Harvard, Northeastern, or Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“Perhaps we don’t feel like we need to be so in-your-face with what we have to offer. Everyone knows our competitive advantage is our universities and talent.”
But look at the headlines across the country, and you begin to see how other regions are upping the ante.
New Jersey lawmakers are proposing up to $5 billion in tax incentives to woo the tech giant. Word is that Toronto is also a major player in the running.
The University of Texas-Dallas is inviting Amazon to take over 100 acres next to its campus to ensure a seamless pipeline of talent.
This week saw Forbes magazine bring 6000 young people to Boston for its Under- 30 annual festival of talent, now a permanent attraction in Boston, marking the city’s amazing magnetism for young people.
Mr Bezos can hardly gave failed to notice that.