Foon Rhee

Sacramento hopes it’s holding a winning lottery ticket

Mayor Darrell Steinberg speaks at an October event at Golden 1 Center launching the Sacramento region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg speaks at an October event at Golden 1 Center launching the Sacramento region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. frhee@sacbee.com

While millions of Americans keep their fingers crossed they’ll hit the Mega Millions bonanza ($450 million) on Friday or the Powerball jackpot ($570 million and rising) on Saturday, dozens of cities are hoping they hit it big in their lottery – Amazon’s second North American headquarters and its 50,000 jobs paying six figures.

 
Opinion

In that municipal sweepstakes, Sacramento got some good ink this week. A writer for Inc. magazine put California’s capital on a list of five dark horse contenders, along with Los Angeles, Kansas City, Newark and Toronto. That’s pretty good company.

“Sacramento and Kansas City aren’t exactly the sexiest metropolitan areas, but they could attract one of the world’s most valuable companies in 2018,” starts the piece, retweeted by the city’s official Twitter account.

It highlights Sacramento’s diversity, its status as a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants and the number of graduates in science, math and engineering.

The article also notes that Gov. Jerry Brown is offering $200 million in tax credits and $100 million for workforce training to boost California cities that are bidding, and that Mayor Darrell Steinberg helped broker a sales tax deal with Amazon when he was in the Legislature. And it mentions that Sacramento is featured in the award-winning movie “Lady Bird,” now playing in a theater near you.

When Sacramento region officials put in their bid in October, they offered 12 potential sites (including the downtown railyard, Sleep Train Arena in Natomas and the Bridge District in West Sacramento), and spotlighted the tech workforce, quality of life and 15 daily nonstop flights to Seattle, Amazon’s home. The bid also plays up Sacramento’s proximity to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.

While you can’t blame Sacramento leaders for putting their best foot forward, analysts have looked at measures such as job growth, skilled labor, quality of life and mass transit and found that other cities stack up much better than Sacramento.

Last month, Inc. listed Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. as the most likely picks for HQ2. Based on the criteria Amazon laid out, they do seem to have much better odds than Sacramento.

Still, it’s chances are much, much higher than the 1 in 300 million or so of winning it all in Mega Millions or Powerball.

And the positive publicity, including nice photos, can’t hurt even if Sacramento – like all but one lottery ticket holder – doesn’t win the big prize.

Foon Rhee: 916-321-1913, @foonrhee

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