DENVER — “Welcome to Your New Frontier.”
That’s the title of Colorado’s concise invitation to Amazon to consider Denver for its proposed $5 billion second headquarters. A redacted version of the invite was released Thursday by a metro-area economic development group representing nine Colorado counties.
The document doesn’t specify what economic incentives the state and municipalities are willing to offer to attract Seattle-based Amazon’s attention. Officials with the private Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, which submitted the bid with the state in October, sought to downplay the significance monetary incentives have in the proposal.
Rather, they portrayed the submission as an opportunity to get and keep Amazon interested, win or lose, for future investment, as well as a template for other firms interested in setting up shop in this rapidly-growing state.
“Colorado is a very modest state when it comes to incentives,” J.J. Ament, the corporation’s CEO, told investors and others during a brief presentation Thursday.
Potential incentives include state income tax credits, cash grants for job training and tax credits in economically-distressed areas. Local municipalities also are offering “custom” incentive packages, the document says.
The document doesn’t identify the eight metro-area locations it says could host Amazon operations. In all, 30 municipalities, the state, and such entities as Xcel Energy, Comcast and Denver International Airport, all contributed to the proposal.
Tantalizingly, 11-plus pages under the heading, “In Colorado, we see Amazon HQ2 and Future Projects Locating At:” are redacted. So, too, is a list of other locations that could support the headquarters project. The pitch does provide profiles of metro-area companies ranging from DaVita to Western Union.
Seattle-based Amazon is promising its investment will generate as many as 50,000 jobs over 15 years — a figure Ament said the Denver metro area has generated over the past year. Amazon is expected to pick a location next year.
Amazon’s first-round request for proposals in September set off a national — international, even — frenzy of bids from 238 municipalities, of which Ament said 53 qualify under population, transportation and other parameters laid out by the company. Denver’s among those 53 contenders.
Officials with Denver and other cities, counties and entities that put Colorado’s bid together were required to sign non-disclosure agreements on its contents.
The proposal cites FasTrack’s $7.8 billion investment in commuter and light rail; Denver International Airport’s planned expansion and 180-plus nonstop destinations; and a talent pool fostered by area universities and net migration to the state.
Of longstanding concern, Ament said, is Colorado’s failure to invest in and maintain its congested highways as well as competing and increasing demands for the state’s water supply.
“Whether Amazon chooses us or not, none of this is going to go away,” he said.