Cities' Offers For Amazon Base Are Secrets Even To Many City Leaders

Cities' Offers For Amazon Base Are Secrets Even To Many City Leaders
The location for Amazon's second headquarters is shrouded in secrecy, so much so that many city leaders are unaware of the financial incentives their cities used to entice Amazon (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The New York Times reports: Across the country, the search for HQ2, as the project has been nicknamed, is shrouded in secrecy. Even civic leaders can't find out what sort of tax credits and other inducements have been promised to Amazon. And there is a growing legal push to find out, because taxpayers could get saddled with a huge bill and have little chance to stop it. A primary reason for the information blackout is that, in many cases, the bids were handled by local private Chamber of Commerce affiliates or economic development groups that aren't required to make their negotiations public. Many of the groups are also not covered by Freedom of Information Act or state open-records requests. But another reason is gamesmanship. Some cities say they want their Amazon proposals to remain confidential to avoid showing their hand to rivals. And Amazon required the finalists to sign nondisclosure agreements that forbid the local groups to release proprietary information about the company. With so much secrecy -- and bids like Austin's that involve unelected officials making promises -- there is the risk that taxpayers and their civic leaders will be forced to accept the proposed terms or live with turning down an enormously lucrative opportunity. Amazon, which is expected to make $235 billion in revenue this year, promises to bring the winning location up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment in construction.





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