Insights

Finalist City Officials for Amazon’s HQ2 Don’t Know What They’re Offering

HQ2

Amazon has narrowed down their list of cities in the running for their second headquarters to twenty, but several city officials are completely in the dark about the incentive packages they’re offering. According to Amazon’s official “Request for Proposal” form, here’s what the retailer is looking for in a city:

 

In choosing the location for HQ2, Amazon has a preference for:  
  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options
HQ2 could be, but does not have to be:
  • An urban or downtown campus
  • A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus
  • A development-prepped site. We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline

In many cases, a city’s chamber of commerce or economic development group made offers to Amazon, and chose not to disclose the information — not even to the rest of the city government. “I don’t know what we offered Amazon in terms of financial incentives,” says Austin City Council member Leslie Pool, “but I believe Amazon wants to see the biggest incentive package that any city will offer them,” according to a feature by the New York Times. The article states that there’s a growing legal push for transparency “because taxpayers could get saddled with a huge bill and have little chance to stop it.”

Offers that have been made public include tax incentives up to $8.5 billion, free land, and even an “Amazon Task Force,” according to Fortune. In exchange for incentives, Amazon promises to “invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs,” bolstering the local economy. However, some Seattle natives might disagree, citing issues such as affordable housing. Above all, Amazon’s development of HQ2 paired with the competitive offers from finalist cities is just another sign of the retailer’s unprecedented growth and influence.