(Adds prime minister comment, details of bids, byline)
By Jeffrey Dastin
Oct 19 (Reuters) - A public contest ending Thursday to bid
over housing Amazon.com Inc's second headquarters has
drawn pitches from governors and a prime minister, marketing
campaigns and offers of tax credits worth at least as much as $7
The world's largest online retailer has won promises from
elected officials who are eager for the $5 billion-plus
investment and up to 50,000 jobs that will come with "Amazon
HQ2." For its second campus, Amazon wants a metropolitan area of
more than a million people with good education, mass transit and
likely lower costs than its home base in Seattle.
Amazon has said it will announce a decision next year.
"There is no better place to do business than Canada," Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau said in an Oct. 13 letter to Amazon's
Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, seen by Reuters.
New Jersey proposed $7 billion in potential credits against
state and city taxes if Amazon locates in Newark and sticks to
hiring commitments, according to a news release from the
governor's office earlier this week.
In a far different proposal, the mayor of the Atlanta suburb
of Stonecrest, Jason Lary, said his city would use 345 acres of
industrial land and create a new city called Amazon. Bezos would
be its mayor for life, Lary said.
Since its beginnings as an online bookseller in 1994, Amazon
has had a savvy approach to taxes, collecting no sales tax for
many purchases until recent years, and now pitting governments
against each other to win tax breaks.
"The cities I talked (to) all know they are being taken and
resent it," urban studies expert Richard Florida said in a
message to Reuters. However, cities expect some indirect
benefits from the contest, such as closer ties to state and
regional officials, he said.
Jerry Brown, California's governor, said in a letter to CEO
Bezos seen by Reuters that Amazon could claim some $300 million
in incentives and benefits under current law. A California
assemblyman also introduced a bill on Thursday that could offer
Amazon $1 billion in tax breaks over the next decade.
Many governments are declining to tip their hands, however,
worried about the competition.
A bid by Austin - the contest's favorite based on a Moody's
study of Amazon's criteria - is confidential, a chamber of
commerce official told Reuters. Missouri's economic development
department said the state had a non-disclosure agreement with
St. Louis, Missouri received more than 1,300 Twitter
mentions related to HQ2 over the last two weeks, more than any
other city, according to social media monitoring company
Brandwatch. Boston and Chicago were next.
Still, other candidates have simply taken the opportunity to
"Hey Amazon, we need to talk," ran an ad for Little Rock,
Arkansas in the Bezos-owned Washington Post on Thursday. "We're
happy knowing that many great companies find our natural good
looks coupled with our brains for business irresistible.
"You'll find what you're looking for. But it's just not us,"
the ad read.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, Karen Pierog in
Chicago, Daniel Bases and Angela Moon in New York and Richard
McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
First Published: 2017-10-19 13:00:00
Updated 2017-10-19 22:13:13
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