Amazon Delays Decision About Headquarters Location

by | November 29, 2017

By Ely Portillo And Katherine Peralta

The Charlotte Regional Partnership said Tuesday that it now doesn't expect to hear until early next year whether it made the shortlist for Amazon's second headquarters.

The group had been expecting to hear by Friday, which was when they were told Amazon would have its shortlist. Partnership spokeswoman Dianne Chase said that the volume of proposals  means this week will no longer be the decision point.

"We are informed that a short list announcement is now not anticipated until early 2018," Chase said.

The Charlotte region bid was shipped to Seattle on Oct. 19, the company's deadline for submissions. Amazon said it received submissions from 238 cities and regions in 54 states and provinces across the U.S. and Canada. The submissions capped off an extraordinarily public contest in the usually secretive world of economic development, which saw cities from Tuscon, Ariz., to Boston vying for the prize: 50,000 jobs with an average salary of $100,000 and $5 billion worth of investment for the second headquarters, known as HQ2.

Charlotte and North Carolina boosters have tried to keep the campaign, and buzz about the bid, going in the interim.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which is promoting bids from Charlotte, Hickory, the Triad and Raleigh/Durham, has launched ads on buses in Seattle to highlight innovations that trace their roots to North Carolina, including the shipping container, bar code and control-alt-delete reboot command.

The Charlotte Regional Partnership, which is leading the Charlotte region's bid, hosted a "#CLTisPrime photo contest" to drum up interest on social media, with users voting on their favorite Charlotte photo.

Other cities that have released details of their plans for Amazon show the lavish lengths local leaders are willing to go to win the biggest economic development in recent decades.

According to reports, Chicago has offered Amazon $1.3 billion worth of tax refunds; Chula Vista, Calif., offered the Internet giant $100 million in free land and a $300 million property tax break; New Jersey offered $7 billion to build in Newark, more than the value of the investment; and Fresno, Calif. offered Amazon the promise of deciding how to spend 85 percent of the taxes it paid in that city, to benefit Amazon.

The group's behind Charlotte's bid have been tight-lipped about most of the key details, refusing to describe the tax breaks and other incentives they've dangled to lure Amazon. Although they released a five-minute spoken word video touting Charlotte's "edginess" and appeal to millennials, and showed photos of the custom-made wooden box that Charlotte's bid was shipped to Seattle in, they haven't said precisely where prospective sites offered to Amazon are located.

Officials have said the region's bid included 21 sites in Mecklenburg, York, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell and Rowan counties.

Some of the owners of those individual sites have confirmed their sites were included, such as the River District that Lincoln Harris and Crescent Communities are developing west of Charlotte's airport, and Ayrsley in Steele Creek.

Each site must be able to accommodate the roughly 8 million square feet of office space Amazon wants, and have plans for direct connection to transit.

(c)2017 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)