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Mayor Peduto pitches Pittsburgh's appeal to Oracle, Google, Amazon execs

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, 4:45 p.m.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, front, with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, front, with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is spending a good portion of his week courting executives from leading tech companies — including Amazon.

He started the week Monday meeting with Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle Corp., which specializes in information technology including data platforms and cloud-based computing.

On Tuesday, he and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had a conference call with an Amazon executive heading up a search for a new company headquarters. Later Tuesday, the mayor met with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Peduto will round out the week in meetings with the CEOs of Google and two self-driving car companies with Pittsburgh offices, Aurora and Argo AI.

“I think what is happening is we're hitting a critical tipping point,” Peduto said Wednesday. “That tipping point now is becoming, ‘If we aren't in Pittsburgh, why?' The CEOs themselves are coming to see. They want to see what is happening here and what they can be able to tap into.”

Peduto hopes Amazon gets the picture.

“Twelve hundred ... students coming out of Carnegie Mellon a year into a pipeline where many of them now stay here and don't go to the coast,” he said. “The University of Pittsburgh turning out engineers and people working in life sciences. Companies gravitate to where the talent is.”

Dozens of cities are competing for Amazon's second headquarters, which could bring $5 billion in investment and as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. Pittsburgh thinks it has better than even odds to attract the Seattle-based company.

Peduto said he and Fitzgerald spoke with the “one person who will read all of the proposals.” He would only identify the executive as a woman.

“We talked about Pittsburgh, where we thought our strengths would be, talked about the application process itself and then just threw out a couple of questions to her about what we should be including that goes beyond site selections, tax incentives, brick-and-mortar and finance,” Peduto said.

The questions centered on “how (Pittsburgh's) proposal could benefit all.”

“We were able to see that many of the prospects that we're looking at in our proposal lined up with the vision of what Amazon wants to see,” Peduto said.

The mayor said Pittsburgh landed the interview through its “connections” with Amazon, but he declined to elaborate.

Amazon's CEO of worldwide consumer business, Jeff Wilke, grew up near Pittsburgh; company CFO Brian Olsavsky attended Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, and his wife is from Pittsburgh.

“Having the CEO from Oracle in, having the opportunity to talk with the folks at Amazon who will be making the decision, having the CEO from Google in tomorrow and the CEOs of Argo AI and Aurora both in this week as well, it's just incredible the amount of people who are coming to check Pittsburgh out,” Peduto said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or @bobbauder.

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