Atlanta Business Chronicle: Viewpoint: Mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard pitches Atlanta to Amazon

Dear Amazon,

Atlanta is so glad to hear you are courting a new partner to grow with into the future and would love to be that one.There’s so much we could do to make your company grow while starting your new life in another place. While many cities will put up a hefty dowry to gain your nod, Atlanta is a more modern suitor looking for an equal partner in success.

If you were to choose us, there’s a golden opportunity to address some of the issues that have held the tech industry back from being truly revolutionary. We all know that you struggle to hire a workforce that is as diverse as our country, that housing prices go through the roof wherever you go, and that while every company with a conscience wants to lead on sustainability, achieving this goal has been a struggle.

Here’s why Atlanta is your perfect partner to work together for a more perfect union. We have an incredible workforce ready to spring into action.The colleges and universities in our region will prepare the most racially diverse workforce you’ll be able to find anywhere in the world. Spelman and Agnes Scott colleges prepare women leaders for your executive ranks, and when we introduce you to the Morehouse Men, well, the match is made. Georgia State University is a school with a minority majority student population that’s growing so fast you’ll not have to worry about that big workforce you need.Georgia Tech is training your engineers now – why not let them stay home and work for you here rather than pay all those relocation expenses. Emory University, one of the best business schools in the country, is right around the corner making its mark in campus sustainability and health care. Atlanta Metropolitan State College is helping kids in high school graduate with two-year college degrees; they’ll fill your ranks with young people ready to code and bring new ideas to your campus. Diversity is Atlanta’s special sauce and our talented young men and women are ready when you are.

Now we are excited about your 50,000 high paying jobs coming here, but we’ve got concerns about housing affordability.In most cities where the tech industry booms, housing costs skyrocket. In comparison to most large cities, housing in Atlanta is greatly affordable for your employees, but tens of thousands of our current residents face difficulty just hanging on.We are getting ready to address that by building more affordable housing, so if you come, let’s work together to be on the cusp of innovation for growing strong communities so that everyone benefits. As we prepare the infrastructure and get started on the supply side, we look forward to working closely with you to make sure that the all workers are getting paid a living wage with benefits so they can afford to be near, or on, your campus at Amazon.

Our Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the best around. Our motto is Go Big or Go Home. Fortunately, if you move here you can Go Big and Be Home! You bring the business and we’ll be ready when you are.

Our transit system is not what it will be by the time you get here. We’ll build five new transit lines that connect neighborhoods all around the city to MARTA. And wherever you set up shop, we’ll extend a transit line right to your doorstep. It’s worth it to us to keep your 50,000 workers off our crowded roads! Here’s where the partnership comes in. When you are over at the state government and they start offering gifts for your hand, tell them you aren’t coming until the General Assembly approves use of some part of the state gas tax for transit operations. Atlanta can build you the rail connections, but every other city that is competing for you gets funding for transit operations from their state government. More money for operations plus more lines from us is a match made in heaven. And the rest of the state will love you too.

We know you are into film and television and music, and we’ve got it all. Tax credits, sound stages galore and all the creative talent you could dream of are right here and ready for you, but you could help us grow this even more. And while you are speaking with the folks at the gold dome, please emphasize the importance of preventing those religious exemption bills.

Atlanta doesn’t tolerate discrimination, thanks to the comprehensive civil rights protection I got passed while on the City Council, and we aren’t about to change now. We know the state politicians will follow our lead on this issue.

We hope you’ll accept our proposal. We can’t wait to start our future together.

Cathy Woolard

Candidate, Mayor of Atlanta