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Pitching Amazon was good practice for Mass. towns

Pitching Amazon was good practice for Mass. towns

THE BOSTON GLOBE – We’ve just wrapped up the great essay-writing challenge for cities across New England, when their planners and consultants crafted pitches for Amazon’s new headquarters.

Of course, only one place in North America will get the “A” that matters here. For any one of these cities submitting glossy bids for Amazon’s second headquarters by today’s deadline, the odds are slim that they’ll be picked. In New England, only Boston shows up on many experts’ short lists.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the class will walk away as failures.

This Amazon beauty pageant has forced some important conversations within municipalities about how they want to promote themselves, and how to work creatively with their neighbors. Several of these bids — such as ones from MetroWest and the South Shore — are regional concepts that involve multi-town participation. (Five Merrimack Valley municipalities submitted a marriage proposal to Amazon, saying ‘Let’s Get Merri’d.)

Rob Anderson, Billerica’s community development director, says he now has crucial facts at the ready, like the number of nearby universities or daily train trips from Boston to Lowell, for future pitches.

With bids due to Amazon on Thursday, some communities have already submitted their pitch to the e-commerce giant, while others are finalizing their proposals.

To April Lamoureux, a consultant who worked with Marlborough on its regional bid, the exercise has given communities a unique chance to size up smart development sites within their borders and to improve their responsiveness for when other economic development opportunities arise.

It’s unlikely that Amazon will end up knocking on, say, Fall River’s or Leominster’s doors. But it still makes sense to compete. And when another big company does come knocking, these communities will be more ready than ever to respond.

This article by Jon Chesto originally appeared here.