Austin Chamber will not release details of Amazon HQ2 proposal after tech giant selects New York City, Northern Virginia

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Austin’s chase for Amazon HQ2 has come to an end. The company announced Tuesday morning that it would split its second headquarters between New York City and Northern Virginia, investing a total of $5 billion and creating more than 50,000 jobs across the two new locations.

The New York City offices will be located in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, while the Northern Virginia location will go to Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood in the Washington D.C. metro area.

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce submitted a bid to land HQ2 late last year, keeping the details of the bid confidential. Shortly afterward, Austin was named to the shortlist of 20 finalists to land Amazon, joining Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto and a host of east coast cities.

“We are pleased that the Austin region has advanced to the second round,” said Mike Berman, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of communication in a statement when Austin made the shortlist. “We look forward to presenting the best of what our region has to offer and how we can partner with Amazon. At this point we have no further information.”

According to city documents, the chamber’s proposal on behalf of the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area submitted last fall did not include an incentive package on behalf of the City of Austin.

Now that the process has reached its conclusion, the chamber has no plans to change course and release information on the bid to the public. The chamber released a statement Tuesday morning congratulating the two HQ2 sites and touting Austin’s strong economic fundamentals that allowed the city to make Amazon’s top 20.

“While we appreciate interest in our bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, as with all our other economic development projects, it is not our practice to share details of these proposals,” the statement said.

Some other cities took a different tactic during the HQ2 process. When Arlington, Texas was taken off the shortlist in the spring, the city released its proposal to offer Amazon $921 million in performance-based incentives if the company located its headquarters in an area the city would repurpose around the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park.

Although Amazon will not be bringing its second headquarters to Texas, the Seattle-based company already has a presence in Austin. In June 2017 the company bought Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The company also has a fulfillment center located in San Marcos and a corporate office at The Domain in North Austin.

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  1. I get that blandly reporting on whats going on around town is CI’s thing. But isn’t this a perfect opportunity for you guys to do some investigative journalism and be something more than a community bulletin board. You could seriously break a real story. We should know what the Camber was offering. If they are not releasing it that means they were looking to get the city and state to offer some over the top bananas stuff.

    Seriously, report.

    • Hi Bob,

      Unlike a public entity like the city of Austin or the state of Texas, the Austin Chamber is under no legal obligation to provide details on its incentives package because it is a private organization. We have asked for the incentives multiple times since the first story we wrote.

      There are no public document requests reporters could make to receive details of the Amazon bid. When the city of Austin offers economic incentives through its Section 380 agreement, there is a formal process that happens, which includes City Council public hearings. That process never happened. According to the city, the Chamber’s package did not include an incentive package on behalf of the city.

      What this comes down to is how willing chambers are to share information. In Dallas, for example, the chamber was more forthcoming with details about its process. Austin has opted to play it close to the vest.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Jack,

        Thanks for your response. But I think you are conflating filing open records requests with actual journalism. In general Community Impact has been able to weather the tumultuous past few years where loads of news rooms have been reduced or local papers have just disappeared. But you’ve done it by writing bland articles with no analysis or in-depth reporting.

        There is a story here and I am sure you, as a journalist, know it. Why on earth would these guys be unwilling to admit what they wanted to give for Amazon to come here? But either you haven’t cultivated a group of sources or just don’t want to do the hardwork, or your bosses like the bland reporting that doesn’t alienate any advertisers. But thats not “news” thats 800 words as a platform for advertising.

  2. Thank Goodness that NY and Virginia were selected – We don’t need any more Liberals in Austin and Central Texas. Furthermore, if the Chamber is holding back on the proposal – I interpret that as the City shoved some our tax dollars to the Chamber for the bid. The Council excels at wasting our hard earned money. I trust our Council just as much as I could throw my car across the street.

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Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.
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