CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — The head of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, which tried to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to the Queen City, was “very surprised” by the company’s rejection.
“We didn’t meet the expectation of Amazon,” said the president of the Charlotte Regional Partnership Ronnie Bryant. “But Amazon is one company.”
FOX 46 wanted to know what was in that proposal. With the city out of the running, we asked if the bid – containing potentially millions of dollars in taxpayer funded incentives – should be made public.
“We’re not going to disclose that publicly,” said Bryant. “It’s proprietary information. It’s our responsibility to keep it confidential.”
FOX 46 has filed a public records request with the city of Charlotte to see a copy of the proposal.
Bryant says he was told to keep the bid secret by government agencies involved, including six counties, two states and the city of Charlotte.
Greg LeRoy, who studies economic development incentives with the non-profit Good Jobs First says taxpayers have a right to know how their money is offered up in their name.
“We’re not supposed to ask questions. We’re just supposed to put as much money on the table as we can, cross our fingers and hope it all works out,” said LeRoy. “It’s a recipe for overspending.”
As for why it didn’t work out, Bryant says Amazon praised the city’s airport, public transportation and business climate.
However, the pool of tech workers – 47,150 and growing – is lacking compared with the 20 remaining cities which have an average pool of more than 105,000 tech workers to choose from.
“We’re the fastest growing market now for tech talent,” said Bryant. “So whatever we’re doing we need to do more of it and keep doing it.”
Bryant says he’s proud of the bid submitted to Amazon and would not have done anything different.
“We have nothing, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hang out head down,” he said, praising the cooperation of support of various agencies. “There were no mistakes made. The process worked. We would duplicate the same process.”
He says they will keep trying to lure other companies. With Apple looking for a new campus, Bryant hinted trying to get them to come to Charlotte could be next on his plate.
“We are looking into that particular project,” he said.
You can read Amazon’s review of Charlotte’s HQ2 proposal where they explain why the Queen City didn’t make the cut below, or by clicking here.