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Little still known about HQ2 finalistsí proposals
Eli Dile   on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Economic developers are keeping tight-lipped over what will likely be the project of the decade. Twenty finalists remain in the search for Amazon’s second headquarters. Save for their proposed sites, most governments have divulged few details on what they are offering to lure the megadeal.

Those looking for a glimpse of a finalist RFP response will largely be disappointed. Only two proposals were made publically available: Boston’s and Toronto’s. There are several similarities between the two documents; both are around 200 pages and heavily emphasize talent. Notably lacking from both documents are many details on incentives. Toronto states it will not offer any discretionary tax breaks, but includes information on existing programs that any company may take advantage of. Boston does not give a dollar amount of what it will offer Amazon but leaves the door open for future discussions.

Denver, Montgomery County, Md., Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. released parts of their proposals, omitting incentives information. Journalists and citizen groups are using the Freedom of Information Act to petition cities to release their proposals, but most are holding out, citing non-disclosure agreements with Amazon.

Besides information leaked to the press, the only other way of learning what incentives governments are offering is through HQ2-specific laws passed in state legislatures. Maryland now tops the list with the largest (publicly known) incentive package at $8.5 billion, which includes tax credits as well as infrastructure and transportation improvements (Governing). This bests the previously largest offer from New Jersey, which proposed $7 billion for HQ2 to come to Newark.

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