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How much was Amazon HQ2 worth to Missouri? The number runs into the billions

How much office space does Amazon require for its second U.S. headquarters?

Kansas City leaders plan on making a hard push to attract Amazon's attention as it looks for a city to build a second U.S. headquarters. The venture could employ 50,000 people and would need massive amounts of office space.
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Kansas City leaders plan on making a hard push to attract Amazon's attention as it looks for a city to build a second U.S. headquarters. The venture could employ 50,000 people and would need massive amounts of office space.

Missouri, which pursued its own bid for Amazon’s HQ2 project and the 50,000 jobs it’s expected to bring, offered up more than $2.4 billion worth of incentives to the online retail company.

Missouri’s proposal, submitted independently of those sent to Amazon by Kansas City and St. Louis, said the Missouri General Assembly was expected to approve special legislation in January to create seven new incentive programs, each one tailored specifically to Amazon.

Missouri hoped to have Amazon consider both Kansas City and St. Louis in its bid, with both cities linked together by an untested Hyperloop high-speed transit system.

The proposal gives a glimpse of the degree to which states and cities were ready to bend over backward to attract Amazon. Last week Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis were all left off a list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, which promised up to 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment. There were 238 applicants across North America.

Rob Dixon, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said Amazon had given the state good feedback.

“We spoke directly with Amazon officials (Friday), and their feedback on the Missouri proposal was incredibly positive,” Dixon said in a statement. “We may not have made the final cut, but they definitely took notice of our pitch. We collaborated across the state and we showed, not just Amazon, but the world that Missouri is innovative and willing to take on bold new ideas. That’s something every Missourian should be proud of.”

Kansas City so far has not publicly released its proposal. But the incentives described in Missouri’s proposal outline the state-level incentives Missouri would have been ready to offer.

Missouri’s proposal pledged to create a new program called Invest Missouri, which in Amazon’s case would offer $1.36 billion in refundable tax credits.

The proposal also offered a $400 million fund called Missouri Mutual Partners, half of which would be held by Amazon as a marketable security — company stocks and bonds, essentially — that it could sell.

The other half would go into infrastructure, research or education investments that would benefit HQ2. The Missouri Mutual Partners program would create a new public board that would oversee the $400 million; the board would consist of two Amazon appointees, one appointee each from the Missouri governor, the director of Economic Development and from the local government of HQ2’s location.

Another proposed program, called Missouri Talent, would offer $125 million in individual income tax deductions for new Amazon employees moving to Missouri.

In addition, a $151.5 million tax credit was available to Amazon if it located HQ2 in a distressed area of Kansas City or St. Louis.

Missouri’s proposal contemplated three other tax credits for offsetting the tax costs of investing offshore investments in Missouri, investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education programs and employee training, all adding up to $400 million.

Missouri’s $2.4 billion incentive is substantial for a Midwestern state but far below what other areas offered. New Jersey offered up to $7 billion in incentives, which may explain why Newark, N.J., ended up on the list of 20 finalists.

Mayor of Kansas City, Sly James, is hoping to grab the attention of Amazon by leaving product reviews. The hope is that the reviews will attract Amazon to build the company's second headquarters in Kansas City.

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