Minnesota officials weren’t kidding when they said the financial handouts to persuade Amazon to build its second headquarters in the state would be modest.
As part of its official proposal to the online retailer, state officials said $3 million to $5 million worth of incentives could be initially available to Amazon, less than other states’ offers, according to portions of the proposal released to the Star Tribune this week after a data request.
However, they pointed out that Minnesota legislators in recent years have agreed to use hundreds of millions in public money on two major economic projects: the NFL stadium in downtown Minneapolis and the Destination Medical Center in Rochester. And they said Minnesota has a lot to offer Amazon beyond monetary handouts.
Officials touted the state’s diverse businesses, the proximity of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to the downtowns of both Minneapolis and St. Paul and colleges and universities that would help supply workers. It also mentioned Minnesota’s host of outdoor activities and its arts and theater scene.
This past fall, Amazon announced it was on the hunt for a new headquarters that could eventually grow to house 50,000 workers. The Twin Cities, which has been deemed a long shot to be selected, was one of 238 cities or regions to send proposals to Amazon by Oct. 19. Amazon is expected to choose next year.
Compared with other vocal city and state headquarters contenders, Minnesota’s team was relatively low-key with its bid.
At the start of the process, Dayton said the proposal would be “restrained.” When it was sent in October, he said, “I think it’s a very professional proposal, one we were told conforms to the kind of proposal they’d like to receive.”
Several cities are reported to have offered incentives to Amazon worth at least $1 billion, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. State and local officials in New Jersey offered $7 billion worth of incentives.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Greater MSP, a public-private nonprofit organization that also promotes development, were in charge of Minnesota’s submission.
“From preparing land for further development, financing business development opportunities, investing in transportation infrastructure improvements, to training workers, I anticipate existing DEED programs could support your investments in Minnesota both now and into the future,” Hardy wrote.
The proposal documents reflect some constraints on state officials that were set out in a Star Tribune article when the proposal was sent to Amazon in mid-October.
Hardy said a state award up to $5 million would be available for the initial phase of Amazon’s build out, at least 500,000 square feet of space for 2,500 employees. The state incentives could go directly to Amazon or to the city where the company builds the office.
Some other incentives may be available from municipalities, depending on the specific site. More than a dozen sites were offered by cities and developers to be included in the state proposal. DEED hasn’t said specifically which sites it proposed to Amazon, though.
Citing the Minneapolis stadium and Rochester projects, Hardy also mentioned that the Legislature could potentially authorize a special incentive package for Amazon next year.
Dayton and several leaders of the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives signed a supportive letter that was included in the proposal.
“We believe in strong public-private partnerships as a key strategy for economic development and business success,” the elected officials wrote. “If Amazon selects Minnesota as the site of HQ2, we will partner with you to ensure that Amazon has access to the best workforce, education systems, and infrastructure in the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.