MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The giant online retailer Amazon has chosen 20 cities as finalists for its second North American headquarters. Minnesota made a bid, but didn’t make the cut.
Why? We may never know — no one will say what was in the bid.
State officials say they don’t know, because a private business group compiled the bid. That business group controlling the bid says it is confidential.
Some 238 American and Canadian cities made bids to win Amazon headquarters, which promises a $5 billion campus and 50,000 jobs. Minnesota’s bid committee signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Early on, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton said he was worried Amazon would hurt local retailers like Best Buy and Target.
“I did call both the Best Buy CEO and the Target CEO on my own initiative,” the Governor said after Amazon announced it’s HQ2 competition, calling the bid “restrained.”
“I just wanted them to know they are very important companies,” Dayton said. “They are very major employers”
Minnesota’s now out of the running for Amazon, but we still don’t know what the state bid to bring the Seattle-based online retailer to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
State officials say they never actually saw the entire bid themselves and don’t have any copies. It was farmed out to a private business group that is refusing to release it.
The bid was crafted by Greater MSP, a respected private regional Economic Development business group. It won’t release any details, telling WCCO:
“All of the public information regarding the Minneapolis Saint Paul region’s response to Amazon’s RFP, including all available financial incentives, has been disclosed. We are not releasing the remainder of the response.”
The State of Minnesota says only two public Amazon bid documents exist: One outlines $3 million to $5 million in economic development tools available to any company. The other is a cover letter to Amazon signed by Minnesota’s top political leaders.
Mike Brown, vice president of communications for Greater MSP, says the information compiled for the bid bid is proprietary.
“The remainder of the response is being kept confidential for competitive reasons: We will be able to use this information for future clients and projects. We don’t want our competitors to have it,” Brown said “There are multiple sites in the proposal which may compete against each other for future projects.”
The online watchdog Public Record Media first reported the Amazon bid would stay secret after unsuccessfully filing multiple legal requests to make the bid public. PRM reported Minnesota “concealed” its Amazon bid through Greater MSP, “whose board includes representatives of many of the state’s top companies.”
Most other bidders around the country were far more exuberant, and transparent. Many other states and cities, like Boston, posted bid videos.
Some publicly outlined taxpayer incentives, like a $2.5 billion bid from Chicago and $7 billion in Newark.
Amazon did not reveal why or how it chose its top 20 finalists.