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Allegheny

Amazon has visited all HQ2 finalists as the wait for a decision continues

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, May 17, 2018, 12:57 p.m.
REUTERS

Amazon has seen the sights, wined and dined and talked transit and tech workforce but apparently not tax incentives with leaders of the 20 places the company could call its second home.

Amazon has visited all 20 finalists for its second headquarters, according to a report from NBC News .

The NBC report cited unnamed sources close to the HQ2 selection process.

If accurate, Amazon has been zipping around the country in the last few weeks. A report in the Wall Street Journal on April 10 indicated that Amazon had visited only about half of the 20 finalists.

Amazon visited Pittsburgh recently, likely sometime in April, though city and county leaders have been coy about when the company was in town. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the Tribune-Review that Amazon officials asked questions about everything from bike lanes and coffee shops to how many engineers Carnegie Mellon University graduates each year. He said Amazon didn't ask about what tax incentives the city, county and state offered the company.

"Their questions are more about how much does it cost to buy a house here? How long is your commute if you live in Mt. Lebanon or Lawrenceville? What type of access and transit do you have here? How many engineers does CMU graduate every year or Pitt or Penn State? What is the talent pipeline here? What do we have to pay in salaries to compete with Google and Facebook and Apple? What's the restaurant scene like for young people? How many coffee shops? Bike lanes were big," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other officials who are working on the city's bid for Amazon HQ2 have kept quiet on details. They refuse to disclose what was in the bid, what incentives were offered and where Amazon visited. Other finalists have been open about the bids and visits.

Fitzgerald and Peduto have said they expect Amazon to make more than one visit.

The NBC report did not indicate if Amazon was whittling down its list any further. A report from The Texas Tribune, however, indicates that Amazon is knocking sites out of contention.

Arlington, Texas, wasn't in Amazon's top 20 but the city did join Dallas' bid. This week, Arlington officials released details surrounding the $921 million in incentives it offered Amazon and announced that it was no longer a contender for HQ2. The city learned two weeks ago it was no longer in the competition, The Texas Tribune reported .

That Arlington was booted doesn't mean Dallas is out of contention but it does suggest that Amazon is paring possible locations within the 20 finalists.

Amazon's HQ2 is expected to bring 50,000 high-paying tech jobs and $5 billion in investment. It has rattled housing, transit and other activists who worry wooing the tech behemoth will leave some residents behind.

Amazon expects to make its decision later this year.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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