Amazon stunned the world last month when it abruptly pulled out of a multi-billion-dollar deal to locate its new headquarters in New York City.
But one person who wasn’t surprised at all was Gary Fromm, owner of the town of Otis, a thriving hamlet located just east of Lincoln City.
“Jeff never wanted to be in the big city anyway,” said Fromm, referring to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “The only reason he considered it at all was because they were throwing money at him.”
When the New York deal collapsed amid claims of unwanted gentrification, straining subways and soaring rents, it paved the way for the ever-alert Fromm to pitch a plan of his own — bring Amazon to Otis.
Fromm, a serial entrepreneur whose coastal ventures have included horse-riding stables, beach tours and a pizzeria, is no stranger to pitching a great idea. But in this case, he had something of an inside track — he and Bezos go way back, having been room-mates during their time at Princeton.
“He was studying electrical engineering and computer science while I was pursuing a Bachelor Of General University Studies,” Fromm said. “But we used to hang out all the time. I showed him how to buy his textbooks online, which seemed to get him really excited.”
It seems that Bezos never forgot that early guidance and was only too happy to re-connect with Fromm earlier this month after the New York deal had fallen through. One quick private flight later and the pair were hashing out the details of Amazon’s Otis move over a Philly Cheesesteak at the Otis Pizzeria.
With a mass of power-hungry computer servers to maintain, Bezos’ main concern was whether Otis could offer a reliable supply of cheap power.
“We solved that one right out of the gate,” Fromm said. “The Salmon River Hatchery is halfway to being a dam already. We just need to slap on a bit more concrete and bingo; year-round hydro power on tap.”
Fromm admits that broadband speeds are not quite what Amazon could have expected in a major metropolitan area.
“I told Jeff they all spend too much time on their phones anyway,” he said. “This way, they can get up from their desk and stretch while they’re waiting for their pages to load, or even take a stroll in the pasture and pet a horse. Did you know stroking a horse is one of the best stress relievers there is?”
Besides, Fromm said, the location has plenty of other solid infrastructure advantages.
“Being right next to Otis International Airport was a big deal for them,” he said “And we’ve got the Otis Post Office right there, and those guys know a thing or two about sending out packages.”
Affordable housing was high on Amazon’s wish list and Fromm was able to accommodate them there, too, offering several fields for the placement of tiny homes as well as permission to remodel a nearby hayloft.
“New York is famous for loft living,” he said. “But we’re going to show these folks the charm of a real Oregon Coast loft. And I’m hearing that raccoons are the next ferret as far as hipster pets go, so that should work out well.”
Not to be outdone, Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson is pushing ahead with an effort to bring KFC headquarters to town, the fast food titan having long agitated for a move from Louisville, Kentucky.
“Lincoln City’s old slogan used to be ‘a great place to try new things,’” Anderson said. “We still have those signs in storage somewhere and it would only take a few dabs of paint to have them saying “A great place to fry a few wings’ instead. And, as you know, I’m all about being frugal with the public’s money.”
Courting national brands has certainly worked out well for Fromm, who says the Amazon-Otis mega-deal comes with just one other condition attached.
“We’re going to have to stop selling copies of the National Enquirer at the Otis Market for some reason,” Fromm said. “But Jeff says we can more than make up for that by shifting more copies of The Washington Post.”
And national media mogul Bezos will surely take the time to pose for pictures with the local press this Monday, April 1, when he flies back out to Otis for the official groundbreaking.
Don’t miss your chance to see Jeff Bezos and Gary Fromm pose with the golden shovels at noon on Monday, April 1, at a groundbreaking ceremony right outside The Otis Pizzeria, located at 1252 Hwy. 18.