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Colorado Finalizes Proposal to Woo Amazon HQ

Metro Denver EDC submits Colorado's proposal to attract Amazon's second North American headquarters


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The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation submitted Colorado's proposal to attract Amazon's second North American headquarters, Wednesday, October 12 – one day in advance of the stated deadline. The state provided a single proposal representing multiple communities, sites and regional assets showcasing the state's competitive edge to support the massive corporate build-out. 

"Colorado's proposal provides Amazon with a unique opportunity to invest in a community that boasts a talented workforce, unrivaled quality of life and the creativity to invest in the future," says J.J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. "We believe our regional collaboration represented in this proposal shows Amazon that we work together in this community to attract major opportunities and thought leadership that expands our ecosystem."

The state selected eight, undisclosed urban and suburban locations that fit Amazon's requirements, including a site within 45-minutes of the airport. While several cities throughout the country are vying to charm the massive business, some have been candid with the details of their offers, while others have kept specifics off the table.

Offering few flashy promises and only basic incentives – the Strategic Fund Incentive which puts aside roughly $10 million to recruit large employers and the Job Growth Tax Credit – the bid, which aims to attract 50,000 jobs Amazon over a 10- to 15-year period, led with the lifestyle and workforce opportunities housed within the state.

"Colorado is not writing a multi-billion dollar check upfront like other states," says Sam Bailey, vice president of economic development for the Metro Denver EDC. "We don't buy deals, nor should we."

Based on projections for net new jobs and wages, Bailey says tax credit incentives could reach $100 million or more. He calls this "arguably the most public and largest economic development deal of our generation."

"Amazon HQ2 is a true test of the regional partnership in economic development that has been built and supported initiatives like FasTracks and Denver International Airport," Bailey says. "Building upon that partnership, Colorado's proposal is reflective of a single voice supported by communities, businesses, institutions of higher education and more to showcase our ethos. We are not selling Amazon, but telling the story of how Colorado's gusto aligns with Amazon."

The Metro Denver EDC established a plan of action to respond to the Amazon HQ2 request for proposal within 24 hours of its release in early September. After the RFP was released, the Metro Denver EDC immediately began an extensive collection and review of information related to workforce, logistics, real estate, global connectivity, sustainability, infrastructure, quality of life and more.

"I'm confident our proposal will be as competitive as any and will build on the current investment Amazon has made in our state," says Gov. John Hickenlooper. "We believe that Colorado, and this region, can deliver more for Amazon than any other in North America. Our economy, workforce readiness initiatives, educational institutions and quality of life will all be stronger and more vibrant with a large Amazon presence in Colorado."

What would winning this bid mean to Colorado?

"Winning Amazon HQ2, especially as a modest performance-based incentive state, would show that our long-term investments of expanding transit, adding connectivity at DEN, diversifying our industry-base and maintaining a balanced political economy are paying off," Bailey says. "We invest in what benefits businesses and citizens in Colorado. Securing this opportunity would show that Colorado is the example of long-term and strategic economic development."

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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