The Biggest, Weirdest Incentive Offers Amazon Turned Down

November 16, 2018

By Chloe Aiello

Queens, N.Y. and Arlington, Va., will ultimately share the spoils of the hard-fought battle for Amazon's new headquarters. The two will split the planned HQ2s ー and the 50,000 jobs that come along with them. In a lower-profile twist, Nashville, Tenn. too, will unexpectedly be home to an operation center and about 5,000 new jobs.

While the winning cities offered more than $2 billion in collective tax incentives to woo Amazon ($AMZN), some of the losers bet even more. All in all, winners and losers alike played their best hands.

The following cities were standouts for their sometimes-endearing, often jaw-dropping Amazon incentive packages:

Atlanta, Ga. promised $1.6 billion in tax credits, $100 million in direct investment, and an additional $87 million in local tax credits. The offer also included the creation of Amazon Georgia Academy with the help of the University System of Georgia; the creation of an Amazon executive lounge in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and 50 free parking spots there, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Chicago, Ill. promised around $2 billion in total tax credits, and hinted in the application they were willing to offer more, the Chicago Tribune reported. And, as a personal nod to Amazon CEO and Trekkie Jeff Bezos, they enlisted William Shatner, Star Trek's original Captain Kirk to narrate the video portion of the bid.

Columbus, Ohio pledged roughly $2.8 billion in tax incentives ー which is more than D.C., Nashville, and New York City combined. Beyond the cash, Columbus also promised Amazon dedicated dark fiber-optic broadband, Columbus Business First reported.

Montgomery County, Md. Lawmakers approved $8.5 billion in tax incentives ー $3.5 billion more than originally planned ー as part of an economic development deal. The so-called "PRIME Act," which included a combination of grants, tax credits, and incentives, was intended to roll out over the course of about 10 years, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Tucson, Ariz. sent Bezos a 21-foot saguaro cactus, courtesy of a local economic development group, to set the city apart. Bezos reportedly turned down the cactus gift, donating it to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Review Journal reported.