Indiana officials say they won't go overboard to woo Amazon
By TOM DAVIES
Jan. 18, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Top state and city officials pledged Thursday they won't go overboard in what they offer Amazon to lure its second headquarters project to the Indianapolis area.
The Seattle-based online retail giant included Indianapolis on its list of 20 remaining contenders for what the company says will be a $5 billion project that could employ as many as 50,000 people. The city of Gary's long-shot bid didn't make the cut from among 238 proposals across the U.S., Mexico and Canada
Republican Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said any state incentives to help lure Amazon to the Indianapolis area weren't likely to rival Wisconsin's $3 billion package last year for a Foxconn electronics plant.
"It looked like it was extremely expensive and maybe not taxpayer friendly," Bosma said. "I know our governor is not on that kind of a glide path, nor would I support that."
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said no specific incentives have yet been offered to Amazon. He said the proposal to Amazon outlined several potential sites in Indianapolis and surrounding counties.
State and city officials haven't provided details on the Amazon bid. Gov. Eric Holcomb's office hasn't yet released any documents in response to a public records request submitted by The Associated Press in November.
The Indianapolis area's proposal focused on the state's low-tax environment, a history of regional cooperation and a variety of location possibilities, Hogsett said.
Hogsett echoed Bosma's sentiments on tax incentives, saying Amazon wouldn't be offered "the entire farm."
"We will be aggressive, we will be nimble," Hogsett said. "I think we'll be creative, and I think state government will be the same. But we're going to be fiscally prudent about it and we're going to do the responsible thing."
Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, are the other Midwestern locations still under consideration, while a bid from Louisville, Kentucky, that included nearby Indiana communities was also knocked out of the running. Amazon said it will make a final selection sometime this year.
Leaders of Gary had hoped to stand out in Amazon's search by offering a chance to pull the northwestern Indiana city from its decades of economic decline that's left it with among the country's highest poverty rates.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city could still benefit if Chicago's bid was successful.
"We have already seen the benefits of assembling and submitting an application," she said. "It has allowed us to make the case for Gary as a location for a number of businesses and it has also helped others understand the regional dividend in supporting economic development in Gary."
Bosma said the General Assembly was ready to act, should legislative action be needed to help secure a deal with Amazon.
"We're here ready to help if they need us," Bosma said. "We'll make it happen."
Associated Press writer Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.