Massachusetts towns reveal all the details of bids for Amazon’s second headquarters

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By Adanya Lustig

Massachusetts towns are disclosing their bids for Amazon’s second headquarters, when many places across the country refuse to. Everywhere from Halifax, Canada to Los Angeles is vying for Amazon’s heart (and dollars) in the semi-public bidding war started in September, but many towns across the country won’t disclose what they’re offering Amazon in return for the second headquarters.

The tech giant received 238 bids from North America, at least 26 of which came from Massachusetts. MuckRock is requesting copies of the bids from as many public entities across the country as they can, and receiving many rejections. However, Boston, Somerville, Worcester and Massachusetts made their proposals public proactively, and other Massachusetts towns have released copies of their bids in response to MuckRock’s request for public information.

So far, no Massachusetts town has rejected MuckRock’s request for a copy of the bid submitted.

Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix and other cities claimed that disclosing the bid would interfere with the bidding process, so the bids are exempt from freedom of information laws.

This rejection is traditional for an ongoing business deal, but the Amazon case is different because Amazon has been very public in announcing that it was seeking a second home, and all the bids have already been submitted. There is nothing in Amazon’s request for proposals that says that the details of the bids are private.

The Commonwealth of Virginia gave a detailed explanation for why the Commonwealth will not release the bid, and the wording suggests that it will never release the details of the bid, even if it isn’t selected.

The bids vary, but some come with a huge price tag for taxpayers. Newark, New Jersey (which has not released the full bid) offered Amazon $7 billion in local and state tax incentives. Boston’s bid emphasized the talent pool from educational institutions, but did not include a special tax incentive package, just what’s ordinarily available to companies. Worcester, Massachusetts is offering $500 million in real estate tax savings, plus other tax credits.

MuckRock also requested the municipality’s contracts with third-party providers for work on the bids and budgets related to the bidding process. Billerica was proud to share the bid submitted to Amazon and to tell MuckRock that all the work was done in-house.

View the rest of the completed bids here.

Adanya Lustig is a contributor for MuckRock.