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Indiana's Amazon Bids Are In -- but One Would-Be Rival Suggests It's Already a Done Deal

San Antonio publicly withdraws from cattle call for HQ2, says it won't help spur a bidding war

(SAN ANTONIO) - More than 100 cities, including four in Indiana, have submitted their bids for Amazon's second North American headquarters. But one of America's largest cities is issuing a public "no thanks."

An open letter from San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says "it's hard to imagine" Amazon hasn't already decided where it wants to go. He declares the cattle call has created a bidding war, and says, "Blindly giving away the farm isn't our style."

IU Kelley School of Business Professor Mohan Tatikonda says Nirenberg is probably partly right. Despite the cattle call for bidders, he says it's inconceivable Amazon doesn't already have a short list of preferred locations if it lands the right deal. 

But Tatikonda says the company's not simply auctioning off the five-billion-dollar campus to the highest bidder. For one thing, he says it's not easy to put a dollar amount on every incentive cities and states can offer. He says the open process will probably produce a better deal for Amazon, but it definitely has turned cities into unpaid P-R consultants for the company, enhancing its image as a highly desirable corporate citizen.

Indy, Fishers, Whitestown and Boone County are joining forces on a central Indiana bid. Jeffersonville is part of a package spearheaded by Louisville and Kentucky. 

The surprise entry is Hammond. The city is supporting a northwest Indiana plan led by Gary, but also sent in a bid of its own. Both cities are emphasizing the combination of proximity to Chicago, which is competing for the headquarters itself, and Indiana's low business costs.

The Indy Chamber sent off the central Indiana bid on Tuesday, but isn't disclosing details. Indianapolis and Fishers issued identical statements saying they're "confident the bid will allow Amazon to see all Indianapolis has to offer: a strong talent pipeline, dynamic neighborhoods, and a thriving tech community."

Tatikonda says Indy's universities and experience with supply-chain businesses makes it an excellent fit for Amazon, but he's doubtful Indiana will land the headquarters. He questions whether Indianapolis has yet acquired the high-tech perception it's been seeking.

"I hope I'm wrong," he says.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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