We finally know what Charlotte and Mecklenburg would have offered Amazon for HQ2

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County would have offered Amazon a combined $270.6 million for the tech giant’s second headquarters, according to city records obtained by the Observer Wednesday through a public records request.

That figure is on top of the over $2 billion in incentives that North Carolina was prepared to offer Amazon, according to the state’s Commerce Department via a public records request.

The local offer includes just over $100 million from the city, and over $170.5 million from the county, to be paid over a 15-year period, the records show.

In an October 2017 letter to Amazon, city and county officials called the $5 billion project “an unparallelled opportunity.”

“Our unique blend of tech, retail headquarters, and banking workforce, our strong business and entrepreneurial climate, and our high level emphasis on transportation for workers to get around the region, make Charlotte-Mecklenburg the best place for HQ2,” City Manager Marcus Jones and County Manager Dena Diorio wrote in another letter that month to Amazon.

In its bid, the city and county proposed 25 sites in seven counties throughout the region for the project, from the former Phillip Morris USA campus in Concord to Camp North End near uptown Charlotte.

This would have been the largest incentives package by far that the city, county and state had ever offered. It wasn’t good enough. Charlotte did not make the final list of cities that Amazon was considering.

Last month, Amazon announced that it had picked New York City and the Washington, D.C., suburbs of northern Virginia as the dual locations for its coveted second headquarters.

Amazon’s announcement capped off more than a year-long search during which 238 cities submitted bids that remained mostly secret. In its recent announcement, Amazon said it will invest $5 billion as well as add up to 50,000 jobs at each site. Amazon said it could receive more than $2 billion in tax incentives from the two locations.

Wake County would have offered Amazon up to $277 million, the county’s largest-ever incentive package, if the tech giant had chosen to place HQ2 in Raleigh, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. The area had made the cut to be a finalist.

Before Amazon made its ultimate decision, and because Raleigh was still in the running, the city of Charlotte had repeatedly denied the Observer’s public records request, citing a part of state open records law that said that releasing some data “might compromise North Carolina’s chance to land the HQ2.”

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A few weeks after Charlotte submitted its bid last fall, the Charlotte Regional Partnership released some details on the region’s bid, including a five-minute video focused on the city’s appeal to millennials, “edgy” vibe and appealing lifestyle. The video left out key details, however, including how much in incentives Charlotte had offered.

Wins and losses

Amazon isn’t the first major corporate expansion Charlotte has lost out on this year, despite the millions in incentives offered.

Local and state officials offered upwards of $30 million in incentives to help bring to Charlotte the new headquarters of AllianceBernstein, the New York investment firm. At least at the state level, North Carolina’s incentives offer was more generous than that of Tennessee, which AllianceBernstein ultimately chose this spring.

The region has, however, announced a string of major economic development deals in recent weeks that included generous incentives packages.

This week, Charlotte tech company AvidXchange announced plans to add up to 1,200 jobs over five years, more than doubling its local workforce, in exchange for over $22 million in state, city and county incentives.

And this month, manufacturing tech giant Honeywell said it would move its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte, thanks in large part to more than $80 million in incentives from the state, county and city.

As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.