Gov. Dayton defends low-key Amazon bid

As cities across the country push to become the home of the new Amazon headquarters, Governor Dayton's taking heat from some who think he's not trying hard enough to woo the company. At the same time, some say it's wrong to court that retail giant while i

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Governor Mark Dayton said Minnesota will be taking a low-key, businesslike approach in its bid for Amazon's second headquarters this week, but expects the state to match up well with others in the hunt.

"We followed closely professional advice from people who’ve worked with Amazon on site location decisions before and we’ve got a proposal we think is a very strong one," Gov. Dayton told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol.

"We were told it conforms to the kind of proposal they like to receive, a business-like proposal without the gimmicks and the gadgetry and all the sensational PR stuff."

Dayton said he's confident Minnesota will make it to the next round of the national competition to snare the $3.7 billion project, a headquarters campus Amazon predicts will employ up to 50,000 people over the coming decades.

The governor wouldn't divulge how many sites, or which sites, are part of the state's pitch, because the regional planning agency Greater MSP, wants to keep the proposal under wraps for competitive reasons, and prefers to keep communications with Amazon officials confidential for now.

Dayton also said the bid doesn't feature any dollar amounts, because in this opening round Amazon wanted an inventory of the incentives and other tools at the state's disposal.

Minnesota's current incentive programs to help companies move to the state or expand aren't heavily funded by the legislature. Added together they amount to roughly $36 million, a pool of money that conceivably could be boosted but only with action by the legislature.

The state's incentives could, in theory, be augmented by local tax abatement and other recruiting tools available to cities and counties looking to host the new Amazon corporate campus.

The effort to woo Amazon has prompted a call to action for some local small business owners who belong to the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota. They gathered Tuesday at Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis to submit their own version of Amazon's request for proposals, or RFP.

"Giving tax breaks to big corporations like Amazon does not create the kind of economy that helps small businesses or most people thrive," Moon Palace owner Angela Schwesnedl told reporters.

"We’re not asking for giveaways; we want policies that support small businesses and the Minnesota families that support us."

Common Roots Cafe owner Danny Schwartzman said the state's small businesses have much more capacity to create local, sustainable jobs than global corporations, and lawmakers should bolster those businesses with more investments in public schools and other programs for working people.

"We want to see the same level of energy -- actually, more energy -- that goes into responding to an RFP that Amazon puts out, to one that comes from people like us," Schwartzman explained.

"It’s about access to affordable health care, it’s about support for child care, so it’s easier for our employees and our customers to go to work and make ends meet."

Governor Dayton, when told about the Main Street Alliance event, said he agreed with them about the need for more investment in people's lives. He said that should remain a long-term goal for state leaders and policymakers.

But he doesn't see those programs directly competing with Amazon, at least at this early stage of the game.

"We should be spending time and energies focused on what we can do to encourage the businesses we have here in Minnesota," Dayton said. "It's not an either-or thing."

© 2017 KARE-TV


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