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Penn’s Northeast Creatively Submits Six Sites for Amazon’s 2nd Headquarters


Northeastern Pennsylvania - Penn’s Northeast (PNE), a regional economic development agency submitted six sites throughout Northeastern PA, in response to Amazon’s H2Q RFP. 


Northeastern Pennsylvania fueled the Industrial Revolution and now, area officials hope Amazon will open its second corporate headquarters here to fuel a technological evolution.


Whether or not Amazon HQ2 comes to Northeastern Pennsylvania, the determined bid to lure the company has perhaps set the tone for all future economic development.


The goal of responding to Amazon is to also let companies across the globe know that Northeastern PA is open for business and has many regional assets to offer.


John Augustine, president/CEO of Penn’s Northeast, gave a detailed presentation Thursday at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, on the cooperative effort that produced the 100-page response to Amazon’s request for proposals, detailing why NEPA is the “prime location for HQ2.” The proposal is one of 238 submitted to Amazon in search of the coveted project.


Six real estate sites were offered as potential locations for HQ2:

• Can Do Corporate Center, Hazleton, Luzerne County, PA

• Glenmaura Corporate Center, Moosic, Lackawanna County, PA

• Arcadia North Business Park, Coolbaugh Township in Monroe County, PA

• Highridge Business Park, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, PA

• Earth Conservancy Hanover Site 9, Hanover Township, Luzerne County, PA

• Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Avoca, Luzerne County, PA


PNE worked with students from the Allan P. Kirby Center at Wilkes University as well as employees from Keystone Automation in Duryea to come up with a creative response. A large metal container was fabricated and engraved with the Amazon Prime logo. Ed Sankus, vice president of Keystone Automation, said he thinks it will stand out. “We work with a team of very skilled craftsmen,” he said. “They did a great job under short notice.”


Recognizing that the odds are limited to being the lucky choice for HQ2, Augustine lauded the effort to prepare the response package.


“This is absolutely the first time there has been such a large regional response to something like this,” Augustine said. “And if not Amazon, maybe there will be another company out there who will notice us and consider us. We can replicate this for all future economic development considerations.”


Augustine said the work on the Amazon bid created a new series of partnerships — between competing colleges and universities, between rival communities, between industry and academia — and a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem was built from the ground up.


As Augustine explained the process, extolling the positives about the region, he took time to display the metal box that was chosen to send five copies of the 100-page proposal to Amazon.


“It was nice to send something to Amazon for a change,” he said. “We wanted the world to know that we have the resources, the talent and the technology here to be successful. We want to help grow the next Amazon in our backyard.”


In addition to the proposal and fabricated metal container, the top 13 reasons as to why Amazon should locate to Northeastern PA were included in a second mailing packaged with a Zombie Apocalypse survival kit.

Why a Zombie Apocalypse survival kit?


The 2015 Cornell University study that listed Northeastern PA as the worst place to be during a zombie apocalypse, because of Northeastern PA’s proximity to highly populated major cities (with more than 96 million people within a 500-mile radius), a zombie survival kit was sent along with a promise to provide every future employee a survival kit should Amazon choose to locate here.


He learned the company already had a Zombie Apocalypse Guide in its policy book, but he decided to include it anyway. “I think it shows that we were thinking alike,” he said in joking about the kit.



Augustine said the area offers a lot for businesses like Amazon to consider:


• A talent pipeline fueled by 19 different higher education institutions that together account for more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students.


• Ample opportunities for creative partnerships with colleges, universities, and K-12 educational systems.


• A labor force renowned for its productivity.


• Superb proximity to New York City, New England and other major markets.


• A location adjoining the world’s second-largest natural gas resource.


• A low cost of doing business, combined with a high quality of life built around immediate access to the great outdoors.

The report sent to Amazon went on to detail some of the area’s best qualities mentioned above:



Northeastern Pennsylvania is comprised of seven counties with a total population of 1,028,926. The region’s urban center is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area, with a population of 558,166.


Today, more than 40,000 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled at 19 area colleges and universities. The challenge has been keeping those students, who choose to come to school here from around the globe, in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Currently, 22 percent of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s workforce has a college degree — compared with 33 percent in the nation as a whole.



A dollar goes much further in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It offers a dramatically lower cost of living compared to similarly large and mid-sized cities in other parts of the country.


In 2015, the Economic Policy Institute reported that the cost of living in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton metro area was approximately 95 percent of the U.S. average.


Housing prices comprise a large portion of those cost savings — in August 2017, Zillow reported the MSA’s median home value was $118,500, compared to $201,900 in the U.S. as a whole.



NEPA is only a two-hour drive from both New York City and Philadelphia. It’s within 600 miles of 50 percent of the nation’s population, and 80 percent of the U.S. population can be reached within two days or less. It is the Northeast’s interstate hub — the place where Interstates 80, 81, 84, and 476 meet, accessing 80 million consumers within an overnight drive.


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is served by American, Delta, and United Airlines, with daily direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, and Philadelphia.


Carl Beardsley, executive director at the airport, said additional flights would be added if Amazon would locate to the region.



The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton metropolitan area alone represents $23 billion in annual economic output.

Luzerne County Manger David Pedri was among several officials who attended the presentation and wrote letters of support on behalf of the region in support of Amazon opening its second corporate headquarters in the Northeastern Pennsylvania.


"If we don't land Amazon, that's fine, there are other businesses out there. And we have the workforce, we have the transportation, we have the infrastructure. Northeastern Pennsylvania could be a phenomenal place to live and work and if we bring in more of these big economic projects, it will be," said Pedri


"I think there's a real possibility, if they take a different kind of tactic, that they may look at northeastern Pennsylvania as the perfect location for certain aspects of what they're going to do," said Bob Durkin, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.


Amazon says it's new development is expected to bring about 50,000 new jobs over 10 to 15 years at salaries around $100,000.


The online retail giant already has warehouses in Pittston Twp. and Covington Twp. as well as a 650,000-square-foot fulfillment center in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazle Twp.


Penn’s Northeast serves as the single point of contact to assist brokers, site selectors and companies with all of their location needs.  PNE provides real estate (land & building) options, workforce and employee recruitment, financial incentives, and additional assistance as needed. 


The organization’s goal is to attract quality employers to Northeastern PA and enhance the region’s economy through new investments, job creation and increasing the amount of potential business opportunities for regional businesses through targeted business recruitment and unique lead generation activities.


Penn's Northeast is a public/private partnership of agencies dedicated to assisting businesses interested in locating within Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Schuylkill and Wayne Counties.


For more information about Penn’s Northeast, please visit or call 570-883-0504.  

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