A man doesn't build a multi-billion-dollar empire out of his garage without wanting to leave his mark on the world. A man also doesn't build his own space program and purchase a newspaper if the only thing he cares about is making money. Clearly, Jeff Bezos uses his wealth and his platform as Amazon CEO to accomplish things that he believes will make the world a better place.
(He's even decided to make Whole Foods affordable for the rest of us, which is good, since I'll finally be able to afford my entire box of food from the breakfast bar without walking around and eating half first.)
In case you missed it, Amazon intends to make one city a lot better off. The company's recent announcement that it will locate a second headquarters somewhere in America and create up to 50,000 jobs has set off a scramble by economic development officials in cities across the country.
And there are a lot of great cities that will compete for Amazon's second HQ.
Denver has every form of outdoor sport and micro-brewed beer imaginable.
Dallas is in Texas, and as any Texan will tell you, that makes everything about it better.
But no city is more of a microcosm of America than St. Louis.
And nowhere else would be more positively impacted by Amazon HQ2 than the St. Louis metropolitan area.
It's no secret that St. Louis has its share of racial tension. The city has also struggled to create a new economic narrative in an era where manufacturing has become less dependent on human beings.However, America has its share of racial tension, and America is also struggling to create a new economic narrative for blue-collar workers. Locating Amazon HQ2 in a city dealing with those issues in a particularly acute way isn't a challenge.
It's an opportunity.
It's an opportunity to show that large tech companies--which are under growing regulatory and political scrutiny--can be vehicles for disproportionately positive social and economic change.
There is also a lot more to the St. Louis area than what people see on CNN. Between 2009 and 2014, St. Louis had a higher percentage of new startups than any other city in the country, and nearby St. Charles County was one of just four counties with multiple cities ranked in the top 50 of Money's 2017 list of the best places in America to live.
"I know we are competing against every other metropolitan area in the nation," said Greg Prestemon, CEO of the St. Charles County Economic Development Council (EDC). "But the narrative about St. Louis leaves out the fact that St. Charles County and its elected leadership have helped make several communities in this area some of the best places in America to live, and that the region has one of the best startup scenes in the country."
Our culture puts entrepreneurs on a pedestal. Bill Gates has spent time on the pedestal trying to make the world more literate and malaria-free. Elon Musk has spent his time on the pedestal trying to make humans less dependent on fossil fuels.
If Jeff Bezos chooses to, he can spend his time on the pedestal helping rebuild one of America's most complicated (and storied) cities.