Come on, Amazon

Wherever the smiling boxes finally land, Emory students showed it why Atlanta is a contender

Cities around the country continue to buzz about where Amazon will choose as the location for its second headquarters.

In January, when the short list of twenty cities was announced and Atlanta made the cut, Emory seniors Georgia Kosso 18B, Sanjay Velappan 18B, Grace Cleland 18B, Anshuman Parikh 18B, and Ellen Shi 19B were already working on #WhyAtlanta, a statewide student video campaign.

“I really wanted to make a lasting impact on my hometown,” says Parikh, who grew up in Atlanta and has been able to see firsthand how important student culture has been to the city. “I’ve been surprised to find in the last four years how my appreciation for Atlanta has only grown.”

Surveying media coverage of Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, the #WhyAtlanta team quickly noticed that no one was talking to the generation most likely to take those jobs.

“We wanted to make sure Atlanta’s passionate, innovative spirit was fully captured in the pitch to Amazon,” says Kossoff.

And what better way to prove Atlanta’s strength in this area than to have its future workforce come forward to directly highlight the city’s talent and culture? The students first approached Andrea Hershatter, senior associate dean of undergraduate education at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, with their idea. She connected them with Dan Gordon, an Emory alumnus who was then COO of Atlanta, who was able to get the #WhyAtlanta team a meeting with Invest Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“I really admire the students’ energy and enthusiasm in setting ambitious goals for partnering with the city and state to help make the case for Atlanta,” says Hershatter. “This particular group of student leaders is not only intellectually gifted but also pretty experienced in creating positive organizational change.”

When the leaders of #WhyAtlanta are asked to describe in one word what the city means to them, their passion and enthusiasm is contagious.

“Rising,” says Shi.

“Dynamic,” says Parikh.

“Potential,” says Kossoff.

“Supportive,” says Velappan.

“Home,” says Kosso. “Atlanta to me is home. It’s not where I am from, it’s not where my family lives, yet this city has welcomed me and my dreams and path since I arrived for college. This is a place that has made me comfortable and part of something, and I am proud to call it my home. Both now and in the future.”

No matter where Amazon decides to go, one thing is clear: With students like this, the city of Atlanta has already won.

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