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Amazon Could Reportedly Release A Shorter List Of HQ2 Finalists This Month

Another major twist may be coming to the Amazon HQ2 saga before a winner is selected.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Rumors are swirling that Amazon could release a second shortlist of finalists in the running for its $5B second headquarters as early as this month, the New York Times reports. Times sources speculate that the move could be an attempt to get cities to further sweeten their incentive packages to land the headquarters and its estimated 50,000 employees.

The bids have been the subject of controversy since Amazon announced its public search for HQ2. Of the 20 finalists selected in January from the 238 initial bids, only Newark, New Jersey, and Montgomery County in Maryland have released price tags of their incentive packages, and the numbers are staggering: $7B in incentives from Newark, and $8.5B in incentives and infrastructure payments from Montgomery County. Washington, D.C., also released some details of its proposal.

For the rest of the field, secrecy has been the name of the game, to the point where some bids have faced legal challenges from critics who worry that citizens will be forced to bear a tax burden they had no chance to approve.

A portion of Amazon’s South Lake Union headquarters in Seattle.

Some bids were put together by private business organizations or economic development corporations in cities, which are not subject to the same public records laws as governmental organizations, according to the Times.

Boston has made a public showing of refusing to enter the tax break bidding war, but the rest of the finalists appear to be operating with the knowledge that Amazon may follow the money.

Making its search public rather than private was seen by some as a tactic to pressure cities into further diluting Amazon's financial contribution to wherever it lands.

Apple, for instance, is conducting its own search for a second headquarters behind closed doors, and CEO Tim Cook publicly called out Amazon's HQ2 process as creating "a lot of losers."