Boston's economic development chief, John Barros, sounded confident Friday as he mused about the impact of Amazon "as they join this ecosystem and become an employer that’s gonna be part of the civic landscape."
Barros spoke on a panel moderated by WBUR's Zeninjor Enwemeka at the Hubweek business conference in Boston. His appearance came a week shy of the one-year anniversary of Boston's submission of a bid for Amazon's second corporate headquarters.
Barros said that until now, the city has not had the kind of jobs package that could convince the state Legislature to fund infrastructure improvements, but "with Amazon, we do."
"And people are ready to make real investments," he continued, "and the public would understand the real investments we need to make in our T system, in our transit, in our schools, to make sure that we’re able to really take advantage of Amazon and the jobs they’re bringing."
Barros tempered his remarks when Enwemeka asked if he knows whether Amazon will, in fact, bring to Boston the 50,000 jobs planned for HQ2.
"I don’t," Barros replied, "but as soon as I know, you’re gonna know."
"We have been talking to them," he added. "As you know, Amazon is a current high employer in our ecosystem today. … Amazon is gonna be a partner in Boston — is here already."
Barros's comments suggested talks with Amazon have heated up since August.
"The HQ2 process? That's in more of a quiet phase," he told the Boston Globe at the time.
Amazon has conducted its search for a second home in secrecy, offering few clues about its leanings.
Boston's pitch to Amazon touts Suffolk Downs as a prime location for the technology giant. The site straddles East Boston and Revere, and the two cities have worked jointly on the bid. Parts of Somerville, which submitted its own bid, are also in the mix, according to Amazon.
HQ2 aside, the company has expanded its presence in the Boston area by recently opening a 900-person office in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood. In May Amazon said it will bring 2,000 additional jobs to the Seaport District in 2021.
Amazon already has outposts in Back Bay and Kendall Square, and employs about 3,500 people in Massachusetts.
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