In late 2016, Cal Poly President Dr. Soraya Coley invited the heads of neighboring organizations for an informal chat over lunch. During the lunch, a Google map was displayed showing of the area surrounding Cal Poly at the intersection of the 10, 57, and 71 freeways. San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership Board Member Tom Hsieh shared that when his 10-year-old daughter Kadence saw this map, she said, “Hey dad, that looks like a starfish.”
Can you see the Starfish?
This initial gathering over lunch led to a series of three or four informal “brainstorming” meetings involving higher education, local government, healthcare institutions, businesses, transportation agencies, utilities, and non-profits on ways to advance the economy and quality of life in the area.Fast forward to September of 2017, when Amazon announced its plans to develop a second headquarters (HQ2) somewhere in North America that will create tech hub with up to 50,000 high-paying jobs. The Starfish group anxiously read Amazon’s Request for Proposals (RFP) and realized that all of the assets desired by Amazon exist right here in the Starfish area! During the past eight weeks, a coalition of Cal Poly Pomona, Fairplex, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, the City of Pomona, and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership pooled resources to develop a HQ2 solution to Amazon called Amazon PolyPlex.
Amazon PolyPlex meets or exceeds all of Amazon’s physical and regional requirements specified in the RFP. In fact, to accommodate Amazon’s desire and need for talent, the San Gabriel Valley is the ideal place for Amazon to partner with nationally renowned California Polytechnic University and a host of other nationally recognized and world-class universities and community colleges—such as the University of La Verne, Mt. San Antonio College, and the Claremmont Colleges—throughout the San Gabriel Valley. These assets offer direct connection to students and programs to attract, develop and retain a workforce of high-tech employees—ensuring a continuum of learning and leadership for the Earth’s most customer-centric company.
In addition to available acreage at the existing Innovation Village at Cal Poly, over 300 acres of available land exists at the former Lanterman property adjacent to, and now under the control of, Cal Poly Pomona. Moreover, the Fairplex,is comprised of nearly 500 acres of land, a portion of which could be used for Amazon related uses for technology, business incubation, office space, etc. The on-site Sheraton Fairplex Hotel, restaurants and 40,000 square-foot Conference Center are among the assets that make Fairplex one of the most dynamic and valuable properties in LA County that generates some 2.5 million visitors throughout the year.
In terms of access and transportation connectivity, Amazon PolyPlex is located only a dozen miles from Ontario International Airport. Also, the freeway system will provide the Amazon PolyPlex with accessibility to four of the largest counties in California, including ready access to Amazon’s existing distribution centers further east into the Inland Empire. On the horizon, the Gold Line light rail line will be constructed within the decade and two commuter MetroLink lines currently operate through Pomona and surrounding cities.
Finally, the San Gabriel Valley will provide a high quality of life to Amazon’s employees with excellent schools from K-12 through college and university, a Mediterranean climate with year-round sunshine and moderate winter temperatures. The San Gabriel Valley and its environs also provide ample recreational and cultural opportunities commensurate with Southern California’s active lifestyles. In addition, Amazon employees will have access to a wide variety of affordable housing types and opportunities, including urban living options to less dense villages, charming downtowns, and up-scale executive homes.
In summary, we are building a bold and creative future in the San Gabriel Valley—home to a diversified economy that includes many prominent technology and world class companies and institutions. By submitting the Amazon PolyPlex proposal, we have invited the world’s most customer centric company to be part of a sustainable work, live, learn and play community at the center of Southern California, in one of the most diverse and culturally rich regions on the planet.