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San Antonio Bows Out of Amazon’s HQ2 Race While Other Cities Go All In


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Economic developers across North America are scrambling to meet the Oct. 19 deadline for Amazon’s HQ2 proposal. But in San Antonio, leaders have thrown in the towel.

 Withdrawing from the race is certainly not a decision the city took lightly, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated in an open letter to Amazon Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos, written on Oct. 11.

 “Sure, we have a competitive toolkit of incentives, but blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style,” Mayor Nirenberg writes in the letter co-signed by Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff.

 The letter states that media analyses have suggested San Antonio isn’t on Amazon’s “short list” and that “it’s hard to imagine that a forward-thinking company like Amazon hasn’t already selected its preferred location.”

 Proposals for Amazon’s “HQ2” are due Oct. 19, and Amazon has said it wants to bring 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment to a metro city of at least 1 million, among several other requirements.

 “To be fair, no metropolitan area meets all of the criteria in your RFP,” Mayor Nirenberg writes, adding that’s why so many cities and states are attempting to lure Amazon with big incentives.

 He notes, “… this public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war amongst states and cities.”

 San Antonio isn’t alone in the decision to forgo submitting a formal proposal to Amazon. Last week, San Jose, Calif., Mayor Sam Liccardo published a Wall Street Journal op-ed about why his city will not bid for HQ2.

 “My city won’t be offering incentives to Amazon. Why? Because they are a bad deal for taxpayers. With many subsidies, the jobs a company brings to an area don’t generate revenues commensurate with public expenditures,” Mayor Liccardo writes.

 Indeed, cities are going to great lengths to woo Amazon. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has even likened it to “The Amazing Race,” with a whole “cast of characters running toward the Holy Grail.”

Business leaders in Tucson tried to mail Jeff Bezos a 21-foot cactus, according to this recent New York Times article titled, “Nothing Is Too Strange for Cities Wooing Amazon to Build There,” which details what cities across North America are doing to get in on “what some are calling one of the largest economic development deals of the century.”

 Kansas City’s Mayor bought and reviewed 1,000 Amazon products this week, and promoted the effort widely via social media. Let’s not forget that another city also offered to rename itself Amazon, Georgia if it wins HQ2.

 Now, with less than a week to get proposals finalized and submitted, there’s no predicting what kind of tricks are up every economic developer’s sleeve. Here are the best cities for Amazon’s HQ2, according to Moody’s.

Which city are you betting on?


Written By

Sarah Reinecke

Sarah Reinecke is an Account Manager at DCI. Since joining the staff in 2013, she’s worked to tell the economic development stories of places that span from Salinas, Calif., to Wake County, N.C., and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to the state of Indiana.

More Articles by Sarah Reinecke

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