Columbus only Ohio city to make short list for Amazon's second HQ

This file photo shows an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Miami. (Associated Press)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus is the only Ohio city still in competition for Amazon's multibillion-dollar second headquarters.

The online retailer announced Thursday that it has narrowed its list of possible locations to 20. Cleveland and Cincinnati also put in bids for the planned headquarters, but didn't make the cut.

Amazon said 238 cities submitted proposals for the project that the Seattle-based retailer says could lead to a $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a statement Thursday that Columbus provides the skilled workforce, educational institutions, infrastructure and culture of collaboration needed and will continue to "compete hard."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said "it's good that we're making these lists." He says the state will see what it can do to help Columbus land the final bid.

Amazon had stipulated that it wanted to be near a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand the headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

But the company also made it very clear it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

Some state and local governments have made public the details of the financial incentives they are dangling. Boston's offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others. Before he left office Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Christie approved a measure to allow New Jersey to offer up to $5 billion to Amazon. Newark also proposes to give Amazon $2 billion in tax breaks.

But many of the state and local governments competing for the headquarters have refused to disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they offered. Of the 20 finalists, 13, including New York, Chicago and Miami, declined requests from The Associated Press to release their applications.

Several said they don't want their competitors to know what they're offering, a stance that open-government advocates criticized.

Amazon plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters, and the second home base will be "a full equal" to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had said.

The extra space will help the rapidly growing company, which had nearly 542,000 employees at the end of September, a 77 percent jump from the year before. Some of that growth came from Amazon's nearly $14 billion acquisition last year of natural foods grocer Whole Foods and its 89,000 employees.

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