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I Can't Make You Love Me (Amazon)

"'Cause I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel somethin' it won't
--Bonnie Raitt--

Pssst. 218 cities not on Amazon's finalist list...we have a little proposition for you...

Ok, so 12 days ago, your "would-be-lover" swiped left. Rejected your meticulous, well-thought out plan to win her over. Rebuffed your proposal to build a super cool light-rail and vamp up your walkability. Dismissed your promises of young techies as far as the eye can see. Spurned your offer of 1 billion dollars (read in Dr. Evil voice) in incentives. Man, we know, rejections suck (although we're not sure yet if the finalists are indeed winners...more on that next time). Especially when that "unrequited love" is on public display. Startups know a thing or two about (countless) nos. 

Regardless of which stage of "grief" you're in now, judging by your Twitter feeds, (it's OK, I always turn to social media after particularly painful NOs much to my husband's chagrin!) and the countless slew of articles coming from your local papers, we're guessing you're kinda not quite over it...There's nothing worse than daydreaming for months about the jobs you'd attract together, the economic development you'd spur, the new residents you'd attract, the boost your "brand" would get, the bragging rights you'd earn, all while scribbling Amazon next to your city's name as you sit through yet another planning meeting, and then one day waking up to a press release with that whole...blah, blah, blah...we had an overwhelming response to our RFP, with many strong proposals, but unfortunately your city was not chosen...(man, those are like the new "skinny" envelope come college acceptance letter time - that's still a thing, now, no?). All that hard work, for nothing! Maybe not...?

Amazon's Just Not That Into You, BUT...

We promise, we're really not trying to rub it in...so about that proposition. Well...you may have read our initial blog post, that pitted the "Detroits" (Davids) among you against the "Denvers" (Goliaths) in the way we wish Amazon would have done it - using data! - to pick a winner. Aaaand about those plans you dreamed up....who's to say you can't still make it happen? (If we had quit after one no, you might be eating my infamous Cuban black beans instead of reading this blog ;)). Soooo...let's join forces! Let's show 'em how this whole competition should've been structured. Let's co-create the model for how all RFPs should be handled in the future. Let's work together so that future corporations looking to take a page from Amazon's book (ahem, Apple) don't pit you cities against each other, making you invest countless hours (and money) coming up with shot-in-the-dark proposals, leading you to entice them with (often unsustainable, and ultimately inequitable) incentives, all to leave the grand majority with tall tales of what could have been.

Let's Write a New Love Song...

Let's pave the road (ahem, sidewalk) for a data-driven RFP model: one that replaces subjective, cryptic criteria with objective, transparent ones; one that lets cities know where they stand from the start; one that allows them to quickly gauge how their proposals will fare, quantitatively (before they spend countless hours and money); one that will make it easy for them to make the economic (and livability, walkability, quality of life) case for their city (and proposals) that lies outside of just offering to throw cash at corporations and firms holding out for the highest bidder. And yes, one that leads to a more efficient and effective way for the Amazons of the world to find their perfect matches (it takes too after all). 

Our (Not at all In)decent Proposal

So here's what we're thinking. We're calling on all 218 would-be-lover cities to send us their proposals - specifically any development scenarios, renderings, overlay plans, etc. they had dreamed up - and an estimate of how much the project would have cost. We will then:

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  1. Pick three cities at random (I know that's not exactly data-driven, but, hey, we're a startup and we can't afford to analyze all 218 of your amazing plans for free)
  2. Run the cities' proposals through our super cool SimCity-esq predictive analytics software and quantify how these plans, if implemented, would impact quality of place (the State of Place Index) - think before and after goodness, but quantified.
  3. Calculate how the proposals would in-turn drive economic development (specifically, we'll calculate related real estate premiums, value capture and ROI of the proposals).

We did this for Detroit and Denver (with some poetic license) as part of our original Amazon post - you can download a copy of that report to see what we'll be doing. We also did this for the City of Winnipeg (outside the context of the Ama-chelorette competition). In the end, together we can demonstrate how a data-driven, evidence based, tech-enabled framework can be implemented to make any and all RFP processes more efficient and effective and less costly. Here's to second (and improved) chances! :). Fill out the form below to get in on the action!

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