By: Gina DiPietro
October 20, 2017
Charlotte’s bid to land one of the biggest economic development projects in recent memory is in the hands of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The question now is whether or not we’ll receive a 5-star review.
In a break with tradition, Bezos sparked an all-out bidding war when he publicly announced the company’s desire to build a second headquarters. HQ2, as it’s been dubbed, comes with a shiny $5 billion investment and some 50,000 jobs.
Some cities are offering outrageous economic incentives, while others are trying a more quirky approach. Charlotte’s pitch involves both “sizzle and steak,” according to Ronnie Bryant, CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnership (CRP).
Bryant is among those who helped facilitate the formal bid. While they’re keeping things close to the vest, he did share some insider knowledge.
Here are 5 things you may not have known:
Transformative bidding process
These types of economic development projects are typically handled behind closed doors. In fact, nondisclosure agreements aren’t uncommon. The fact that Bezos solicited communities nationwide is also transformative in that companies usually identify a handful of communities that they’re interested in.
“There’s never been anything like it,” says Dianne Chase (CRP’s Media & Communications Director). “But that’s Amazon. They carve their own path, right? They make their own rules in a lot of ways.”
Chase expects a quieter phase of negotiations if Charlotte makes the shortlist.
The formal bid proposes 22 sites for HQ2 in both North and South Carolina, according to Bryant. He won’t say where.
Charlotte’s bid also includes a clawback provision. Think of this as a safety vest. Bryant explains that if Amazon wouldn’t meet their stated job and investment commitments in the period of time that the contract allocates, any incentive that’s been extended must be paid back.
Charlotte USA packaging
While there is a password-protected website only visible to the higher-ups at Amazon, Charlotte also sent in a physical bid. It was packaged in a wooden box with a Charlotte USA logo burned on top. Bryant says that wooden box, along with the tape and cardboard it was shipped in, was manufactured in our region, too. I absolutely love this visual.
Dec. 1, 2017
This is the date that economic leaders, including Bryant, expect to hear some news by.
“If we make the short list, then we will take it to another level,” says Bryant. “We’ll get a deeper dive.”
And now we wait.