Minnesota's failed proposal for Amazon's HQ2 site revealed

The 122-page document was made public for the first time.
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Much was made of Minnesota's decision to keep its Amazon HQ2 bid secret, though political leaders characterized it as modest - no special tax breaks, no "gimmicks" as former Gov. Mark Dayton put it.

With the 122-page pitch now released publicly (via Greater MSP), we can see for ourselves. And yep, it's pretty straightforward, with a big emphasis on quality of life.

"The Minneapolis-Saint Paul region is renowned for its Midwest work ethic and quiet intensity," the proposal's executive summary says. "The government we elect is stable, often taking nation-leading action on topics ranging from healthcare to   social justice. And these values are further demonstrated by the behavior of our highly educated general population."

The pitch dangled existing state and local tax breaks, things like matching funds for job training purposes, or site redevelopment help.

But the real emphasis was an overall "It doesn't suck to live in the Twin Cities" pitch: The arts, the public transit system, the tech talent, the education system and high-profile universities, the frequent flights to other notable U.S. cities,  the growing population, the state's voting record, corporate innovation friendliness, an emphasis on sustainability and environmentally-friendly programs, the top-rated parks and trails, and of course, WalletHub rankings.

Maybe the most interesting piece is the sites offered up to Amazon, which included just about every high-profile empty space available at the time.

The proposal outlines possible uses for:

  • The Dayton's Building and North Loop in downtown Minneapolis.
  • A "shovel-ready" development site along the river in downtown St. Paul.
  • Open land around Mall of America, including the site that now might become an enormous indoor waterpark.
  • A "Canterbury Innovation District" in Shakopee, built all around the race track.
  • And possible land in Apple Valley, Arden Hills, Brooklyn Park, Chaska, Elko New Market, Forest Lake, Hugo, Inver Grove Heights, Lakevlle, Maple Grove, North Branch, Ramsey, Rosemount and Woodbury.

Letters from execs at Thomson-Reuters, Delta, Mayo Clinic, Thor and Mall of America were also included to entice the tech giant.

Of course, none of this worked.

The Twin Cities wasn't even on the list of 20 finalists announced in January 2018. Amazon ultimately picked two sites, Virginia and New York City, but pulled out of the latter in February 2019 after what the New York Times descibred as "unexpectedly fierce backlash from lawmakers, progressive activists and union leaders, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives."

So at least we didn't have to deal with that?

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