Five economic development takeaways from the Amazon HQ2 bids

Amazon’s decision to cancel its New York headquarters investment has led to intense debate among academics, politicians, and civil society. The split culminated Amazon’s very public search process in which 238 U.S. cities submitted detailed bids to the company to host its “second headquarters,” or HQ2. Many of these bids remain secret, shielded from public records laws due to exceptions to public disclosure of economic development projects, or the use of non-public entities, such as Chambers of Commerce, to submit the bid. But for 26 publicly-released bids, we have a rare opportunity to peek under the hood of U.S. regional economic development. Here are five main takeaways from a review of these bids.

1. WE KNOW MORE ABOUT HQ2 THAN MOST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEALS.

Many journalists and civic leaders expressed frustration over the lack of transparency in the HQ2 process. Few cities provided the full details of their offers during the process, and cities such as Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami have still not made their proposals public.

Yet the reality is that most corporate site selection processes remain outside the public eye. The fact that Amazon made this a public competition led to additional scrutiny of the site selection process. Numerous local journalists, such as those in the Dallas and Denver areas, were able to explore local proposals and reveal more about this process than most other economic development deals. …

Read the rest at Brookings.edu