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Minnesota releases details of Amazon headquarters bid

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A visitor checks in at the Amazon corporate headquarters.
A visitor checks in at the Amazon corporate headquarters in Seattle.
David Ryder | Getty Images 2017

Updated May 7, 11:30 a.m. | Posted May 6, 11:26 a.m.

Minnesota economic development officials on Monday released 122 pages of documents laying out the economic pitch made to lure an Amazon headquarters to the Twin Cities. 

The proposal, made public for the first time, outlines a relatively modest package of $3 million to $4 million in existing state subsidies that were already in statute. 

It also included descriptions and some potential property tax breaks, like tax increment financing, for potential locations in about 20 Minnesota communities from North Branch to Elko-New Market. 

In 2017, the online retail giant invited cities and states to bid on landing its second headquarters, a proposed $5 billion project outside of its hometown of Seattle that held the promise of thousands of new jobs. 

It triggered an incentives war among mayors and governors across the country.

The St. Paul-based regional economic development group Greater MSP and state economic development staff submitted a proposal that ultimately failed. 

Although it fell short, Greater MSP initially opposed public disclosure of the offer and fought a lawsuit brought by media and others who wanted to see any incentives Minnesota might offer.

In January, A Ramsey County District Judge ruled that Minnesota's Amazon proposal was not subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act  and therefore wasn't public information.

Amazon, however, recently told Greater MSP that it will not oppose disclosure of the Twin Cities bid package, Greater MSP CEO Peter Frosch said late last week.

Amazon eventually split its second headquarters decision between Long Island City, N.Y., and Crystal City, Va. It later retreated from the New York site amid local opposition and moved some of its plans to Nashville, Tenn.

Matt Ehling, executive director with Public Record Media, the nonprofit government transparency group that's pushed for disclosure of subsidies offered to Amazon, said the public has a right to know the financial incentives that governments are offering businesses so they can evaluate them.

"That is a very substantive debate that has to happen," he said prior to the release, noting the pushback to Amazon in New York. "You can't have that debate if you don't know what the terms of the offers are. So that's why we've been so bent on making sure that the public will know those terms going forward."