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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 9, 20173min664

… Well, you’ll have to wait until next week — a week from today — and even then, you only can expect to see a redacted version of the state’s proposal to host the online retail giant’s second North American headquarters. The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation — along with a team of economic development partners, universities, businesses and communities that offered input into the proposal — is still going to withhold information that could tip Colorado’s hand to prying competitors or local land speculators.

As a Metro Denver EDC announcement put it today, the group “will share the proposal process, design elements, and hard copies of the proposal,” but, “site information and other proprietary data will remain confidential.”

The proposal was submitted to Amazon last month.

Here’s the who-what-when-where, etc., in today’s press announcement:

WHEN:  8:30 to 9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 16

WHERE:  Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, 1445 Market St. 4th Floor

WHO:  Metro Denver EDC CEO J. J. Ament and Vice President of Economic Development Sam Bailey will present the proposal to business leaders who sit on the Metro Denver EDC Executive Committee.

WHY: This economic development effort has attracted enormous attention, and the Metro Denver EDC would like the public to see the creativity and innovation that went into the region’s submission to Amazon – and to inform interested parties how the Metro Denver EDC works regularly to attract corporate relocation, expansion, and capital investment to Colorado.

DETAILS: Please RSVP to daryl.vitali@metrodenver.org by Tuesday, Nov. 14

 

 


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 6, 20174min850

Denver is considered by many to be among the frontrunners to win the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, or as the kids call it HQ2.

Amazon is after all weighing a city’s or region’s proximity to an international airport (within a 45 minute-drive), strong local and regional talent and recreational opportunities not unlike those Seattle offers (i.e. mountains) in the HQ2 decision process. Denver’s got ‘em. Even the New York Times picked the Mile High City to ultimately woo Amazon.

But, the retail giant is also considering public transportation, and according to one study, Denver’s poor access to transit could hurt its odds.

Real estate research company Reis Inc., based in New York City, conducted a recent survey of 25 cities which showed Denver behind more than a dozen cities in the bid for Amazon’s second HQ, largely due to poor mass-transit access. NYC, San Francisco and Washington D.C. topped the rankings, with Denver coming in at 15.

Reis analyzed the 25 cities across eight equally-weighted criteria Amazon outlined in its request for proposals.

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.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s proposal — submitted last month and including as many as eight metro-area locations for HQ2 —  is said to highlight the region’s educated workforce and quality of life over financial incentives.

Reis’s survey noted Amazon could decide on a location for HQ2 based on factors other than those considered in their research.

“These measures include the tax incentives granted by the city/state, the ‘creativeness’ of the location, other immeasurable qualitative features and/or an underlying preference on the part of the decision makers for such things as access to skiing, a lake, river or ocean,” the study said.

Amazon said it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts territories across the country.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 1, 20173min784

Hat tip to the Loveland Reporter-Herald for profiling an obscure tax issue that eventually could find its way onto just about every TV screen in Colorado: the city of Loveland’s attempt to assess local sales tax on internet streaming behemoth Netflix.

An audit last year by City Hall in the northern Front Range burg revealed Netflix hadn’t collected from its Loveland customers — or remitted to the city — some $85,000 in sales tax during the previous three years. After accounting for penalties and interest, Loveland handed the entertainment giant a tab for $116,508.22. Netflix doubtless could sneeze and more than that paltry sum would come out — but it balked at the bill on principle.

According to the Reporter-Herald’s Julia Rentsch, Netflix filed a complaint with the city challenging the tax bill. The complaint contends both city and state law exempt the streaming service from taxation as it doesn’t constitute, “sales of tangible personal property that are also subject to the Colorado sales tax.” The complaint states in part:

“Netflix provides a service that begins when Netflix sources entertainment content from movies and television studios, and continues as Netflix optimizes that content for viewing, creates unique and personalized interfaces for every single subscriber, and provides a seamless viewing experience … Therefore, the Streaming Service constitutes a nontaxable service under the City Code and Colorado law.”

Just last week, the city backed down, but the issue might not go away. In fact, the city wants to punt it to the state:

On Thursday, the city rescinded the tax assessment and dismissed the complaint, but it says it wants the state to decide whether Colorado cities may tax online streaming service subscriptions going forward.

This whole issue, it should be noted, is distinct from the years-long grudge match between state governments and e-commerce retailers like Amazon over the assessment of sales taxes on goods sold online.

 


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandSeptember 18, 20178min966
Colorado and its western neighbors have done well economically, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper, but a low unemployment rate, at around 2.4 percent, is creating its own problems: Workers lack the the skills necessary to attract new businesses or help expand existing ones. Hickenlooper, along with South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, spoke on Monday at […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 31, 20175min381

As reported the other day via Colorado Peak Politics, Jared Polis — who amassed a fortune as an internet wunderkind almost before he was old enough to shave — has come out in defense of Amazon’s impending acquisition of Whole Foods. Meaning, the reputedly liberal gubernatorial candidate and 2nd Congressional District Democratic representative discounts the possibility that the recently announced deal flouts federal antitrust laws.

Peak Politics had cited a report by CNBC, quoting Polis as well as conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, of California, essentially in support of the deal. For a fire-breathing free-marketeer like Issa, that’s unsurprising, but here’s Polis:

“Of course I think both Democrats and Republicans believe in antitrust, and they also believe with the development of new technologies we should update what antitrust means in a digital era…”

Republican-leaning Peak saw it as an example of Polis blowing hot and cold on the issue because in the same CNBC report, he also is paraphrased saying any congressional antitrust hearings are moot because his Democratic minority doesn’t run the floor show in the U.S. House. Peak also suggests Polis might be singing a different turn if Amazon weren’t helmed by his fellow Net-repreneur and left-leaner (and relatively new Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos.

Let’s defer to the Peak-sters on all that — and instead consider a Fortune.com report quoting another Democratic member of Congress who vents some of his party’s more familiar concerns about the Amazon deal:

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, (Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Rep. David) Cicilline called for a hearing looking into the Amazon-Whole Foods deal.

“Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods raises important questions concerning competition policy, such as how the transaction will affect the future of retail grocery stores,” Cicilline wrote. “Some have also raised concerns that the transaction will also increase Amazon’s online dominance, enabling it to prioritize its products and services over competitors.”

By all indicators, Cicilline’s request will go nowhere, as Polis pointed out. What’s noteworthy for Coloradans, though, is how far outside the Democratic safe space Polis is willing to go on free-market economics — anathema to a significant wing of his party and hardly the hallmark of populist Benie-nomics..

By the lights of his campaign website, Cicilline seems very much a traditional New England Democrat — vowing to recapture old-economy manufacturing jobs. (You do have to question the political value of Cicilline’s target, though: the quintessential virtual vendor buying the quintessential yup-scale grocer — arguably, a big “who cares?” to the blue-collar crowd he’s playing to.)

Polis, in stark contrast, is all about the economy of tomorrow. Here’s more from the CNBC report:

“By really nurturing and helping capital formation and issues around startup companies, we’re encouraging the creation of tomorrow’s great success stories,” Polis said.

Capital formation? Success stories? He could be Rich Uncle Penny Bags (aka the Monopoly man)! OK, that’s unfair. Point is, the congressman is no foe of the free market. He made so much of his own money there, after all.