ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The economic development experts working on Minnesota's bid for Amazon's second headquarters aren't able to share many details, but they say the proposal's coming together and will be submitted by Thursday's deadline.
"This is the best chance we've had in a long time to tell our story, about what a great place this is," Michael Langley of Greater MSP, the Twin Cities' regional economic development organization, told reporters at the Capitol Monday.
"We’re a headquarters town. We have 18 Fortune 500 headquarters in this area, and we know how to do that kind of business."
Langley and Economic Development Commissioner Shawntera Hardy addressed reporters after emerging from a private briefing with Gov. Mark Dayton.
"I can tell you the governor has been totally on top of this. He's been very engaged in the process," Langley remarked.
Dozens of states and metro areas across the nation are competing for Amazon's HQ2, which the company says could generate up 40,000 jobs directly in a decade, plus 53,000 indirectly.
Thursday, Oct. 19 is the deadline for applicants to respond to the Amazon's published Request for Proposals issue in September. The company envisions a campus with 33 buildings that would be built at an estimated cost of $3.7 billion.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has taken to social media to tout Newark as a great location for HQ2, announcing that up to $7 billion in tax breaks is available to the Internet retail giant.
Minnesota's approach, at least in the initial stage, will be more low key in nature. So don't look for any theatrics from the State Capitol or Gov. Dayton on social media at this point.
"That's not the Minnesota way," Commissioner Hardy explained.
"This is a process. This is a marathon, and at this juncture they've laid out some very specific questions we should be focused on in a very short timeline."
Hardy said the initial bid to Amazon will include the incentives already available to any company that considers moving here or expanding. That includes Target and Best Buy, two of Amazon's online competitors mentioned in an earlier press conference by Gov. Dayton.
Hardy said her department would need permission from the legislature to offer up tax breaks that don't currently exist.
But she noted that local units of government may be able to quickly approve tax incentives without legislative involvement.
Langley also said more details may emerge once Minnesota arrives on Amazon's short list, something he said was likely given the area's infrastructure and talent pool.
"The quality of our people, the quality of our workforce, the quality of place we have here. I mean there’s really no better place in the country to live if you think about our social and cultural infrastructure, our park systems, our great airport, our great universities."
Langley and Hardy both said they're limited in terms of what they can reveal about the bid ahead of time, including how many sites are part of the bid, and where they are.
The Ramsey County Commission pitched the former ammunition plant site in Arden Hills. At 438 acres that site would meet Amazon's desire for a 100-acre blank slate. The smallest site, among those proposed by the St. Paul City Council, is a strip of land along the riverfront that once housed the Ramsey County Jail and West Publishing.
Those parcels add up to only eight acres, but are very close to the Green Line light rail and the transportation hub at Union Station. Easy access to mass transit is high on Amazon's wish list.
Other sites around the Twin Cities, including some in the west metro, have also drawn interest and created some buzz, including the Minneapolis Farmers Market and Bassett Creek Valley north of I-394 between downtown Minneapolis and the Bryn Mawr neighborhood.
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