Nashville is still in the running for Amazon, despite the crushing defeat of the city’s massive transit plan, Gov. Bill Haslam and Nashville Mayor David Briley maintained Wednesday.
"We are still in active conversations with them," Haslam said. "We haven’t talked to them since last night, but do I think we are still on their screen? Yes, I definitely do."
Amazon said during its bidding process that transit was a top priority, calling into question Nashville’s prospects for landing the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters, an expansion expected to bring 50,000 jobs and contribute as much as $38 billion to the local economy.Nashville was named among 20 cities as finalists for the headquarters site.
Haslam said Amazon was conducting its due diligence, visiting the city "a time or two," and that city and state officials continue to work on the bidding process. Haslam said he did not know if the company would narrow down the list of cities before ultimately choosing its site.
Regardless of Amazon’s ultimate decision, Briley emphasized the city and its infrastructure would need to make sure it was prepared for new businesses, even if they don’t have the scale of Amazon.
"If Amazon doesn’t come, we are going to continue to have businesses that want to relocate here, bigger and bigger businesses overtime," Briley said.
The mayor’s comments themselves came during an event featuring the announcement that Wall Street’s AllianceBernstein is relocating its headquarters to Nashville.
"It’s our obligation, as leaders of the community, to make sure we build out a transit network and a transportation network that will support it, without regard to what is happening with Amazon," Briley said. "We have an obligation to make progress on this issue and we are committed to doing that."
While the referendum failed, Haslam said there would need to be action taken on the city’s growing congestion. In addition to education, transportation needs are the greatest issues the city faces.
"Regardless of how you voted last night, doing nothing is not an answer," Haslam said.
Briley also emphasized the importance of coming up with a new plan and that he had begun discussions with opponents of the plan to move forward with a solution.
"I don’t think any single vote or decision in this city is going to keep us from being a vibrant economy and attracting people over the long run," Briley said. "We’ve got to make investments in transit and transportation to remain competitive."
Reach Jamie McGee at 615-259-8071 and on Twitter @JamieMcGee_.