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Amazon chooses 20 finalists for the second venue

The process will now move into a new phase, with Amazon representatives communicating more directly with the finalist cities as they prepare to select a winner later this year, and perhaps with cities being even more candid about why They should be chosen. [19659002] "Going from 238 to 20 was very difficult: all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity," said Holly Sullivan, Amazon's director of economic development. "Through this process we learned about many new communities in North America that we will consider as locations for future investments in infrastructure and job creation."

Amazon provided few details on how to choose the finalists for its second location, which it calls HQ2, in addition to saying that it based its choices on the criteria established for the previous search.

According to the people informed about the process who would speak only anonymously because the deliberations were private, the process was carried out by a team of approximately a dozen people within Amazon, including economists, human resources managers and executives who supervise property. Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive who was the mastermind behind turning the search into a public process and coined the term "HQ2," was also involved, people said.

Amazon said in September that it needed a second location because it would soon surpass its hometown, Seattle. Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, founded the company there in 1994, and has since transformed Seattle, employing more than 40,000 in the city. That expansion has also contributed to the rising cost of city life and traffic problems.

To attract applicants, Amazon placed local politicians with statistics on the company's impact on the Seattle economy and some of the immediate economic benefits for its new home, including plans to spend $ 5 billion for the construction of its second headquarters.

He asked the candidates to include in their offers a variety of detailed information about the area, including possible construction sites, traffic and crime statistics and nearby recreational opportunities. And he asked cities and states to describe the tax incentives available to offset Amazon's costs to build and operate its second headquarters.

The response triggered a wave of advertising stunts on the part of the cities that surprised even Amazon. A business group in Tucson transported a giant cactus to Amazon in Seattle, and the mayor of Washington anointed Amazon in a promotional video in which he called it "the most interesting company in the world." A group of economic development in Calgary, Alberta, took out an ad in The Seattle Times in which it offered to fight a bear for Amazon and spray-painted sidewalks in Seattle with a comic promise to change the name of the city to Calmazon or Amagary .

There were also more serious offers, including a commitment of up to $ 7 billion in tax incentives from New Jersey to take Amazon to Newark. Officials in Chicago offered Amazon tax credits that would allow him to keep about $ 1.32 billion in income taxes that employees would normally pay the state, according to a Chicago Reader report.

The process also attracted criticism. Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a non-profit organization that advocates for local businesses, said local politicians were improving Amazon's image just as the company's market power was under increasing scrutiny. of groups like yours. .

"As these cities thin and crawl, they are basically communicating this idea that we should want Amazon to be bigger and more powerful in our economy," Mitchell said.

In an interview, Amazon announced its list of finalists, Ras Baraka, the mayor of Newark, said Amazon, long criticized in Seattle for its role in a booming economy that has displaced low-income residents and minorities. income, had the opportunity to make a statement selecting a less fortunate city for its new headquarters Newark is among the finalists.

"There is an opportunity to turn the page here and create a new narrative for the company," he said.

Here is the complete list: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; The Angels; Miami; Montgomery County, Md .; Nashville; Newark; NY; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C .; Toronto; Washington, D.C.

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