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Checking in on HQ2

Friday, August 3, 2018 by Chad Swiatecki

There’s been deafening silence in Austin and 19 other North American cities still in the running for the economic beauty pageant underway to win the prize of landing Amazon’s $5 billion HQ2, but a recent business story out of Seattle sheds some interesting rays of light on the mostly clandestine process. Among them: Amazon’s visitors to finalist cities only introduced themselves by first name and withheld other relevant info until later in the process; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is reportedly obsessed with incentives and “getting the largest pound of flesh” from competing cities, since he views incentives as a measure of a city’s genuine interest; and the company weighs its potential impact on the eventual winner, and how it will affect unique challenges and issues in a given city. Contender cities have reportedly been getting the silent treatment since receiving an email earlier this year informing them of the review process, with an Austin Chamber of Commerce representative telling the Austin Business Journal they’ve received no more updates. The Seattle story also includes the revelation that cities’ nondisclosure agreements with the company don’t prevent them from sharing information about their bid proposals. The Austin Chamber, which reportedly handled Austin’s HQ2 proposal, has withheld all information about the package. When queried by the Austin Monitor about a possible release of info, given the apparent latitude granted by the company, a representative responded by email: “No change.”

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