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Denver’s bid for Amazon HQ2 to highlight workforce, lifestyle over financial incentives

Author: Adam McCoy - October 10, 2017 - Updated: October 10, 2017

Amazon announced Sept. 7 it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

As cities jockey in the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, preparing proposals likely heavy with tax breaks and financial incentives, Denver and state officials might go a different route to appeal to CEO Jeff Bezos and company.

Instead, officials will harp on “the region’s highly educated workforce, quality of life and global connectivity through its international airport” in its bid to the retail giant, the Denver Business Journal’s Monica Mendoza reports.

“We are not the biggest incentive state — and we won’t do anything differently for Amazon than we would for any other company that is looking to locate here,” J.J. Ament, president and CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., told me Thursday.

Ament’s agency is representing the region in preparing a bid for Inc.’s sprawling second headquarters campus.

Amazon announced it would start accepting proposals for a location for its second headquarters in September, promising to invest more than $5 billion for construction and operation of HQ2 and create 50,000 jobs. With the construction and operation of an Amazon HQ2, the surrounding community should expect to grow tens of thousands of additional jobs, and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment, Amazon said. There’s an Oct. 19 deadline for proposals.

Amazon does note it is looking to set up in a region with “strong local and regional talent,” but it will also surely expect financial incentives as part of a package. As Forbes points out in an article on the race for Amazon HQ2, states like Wisconsin have shelled out billions in financial incentives to attract giant companies (in that case Taiwan-based Foxconn), and the math often doesn’t add up for the return on job growth.

Whether Metro Denver’s approach will hurt or help Colorado in the competition for Amazon HQ2 remains to be seen, but Ament is confident Denver will make it through the initial heat:

“We don’t have to lure them with financial incentives,” Ament said. “We are not going to be that [kind of] proposal.”


Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.