Chicago officials bid on Amazon HQ and offer incentive package

In this Oct. 18, 2010 file photo, an package awaits delivery from UPS in Palo Alto, Calif. Amazon is suing more than 1,000 people for advertising their services writing fake reviews for as little as $5 as it seeks to crack down on bogus reviews on its site. The complaint filed Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 in King County Superior Court in Seattle marks the latest effort by the online powerhouse to crack down on fraud on its site. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

State and city political leaders entering the nationwide competition to land Amazon’s massive second headquarters are vying for the retail giant’s 50,000 jobs by offering $2 billion in incentives while hinting they were willing to dig even deeper, sources confirmed who were familiar with the bid.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the legislature’s top four leaders laid out state tax breaks, property tax discounts, infrastructure spending and other incentives in an official letter to the Amazon executives attached to the state and city’s bid. In the letter, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, the politicians also offered to spend an additional $250 million that would not go to Amazon directly but would pay to train up a workforce from which the mega tech company could hire.

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There could be more money and tax breaks should Amazon deem Illinois and Chicago a worthy contender for the company’s so-called HQ2 and the $5 billion it has promised to spend on it.

“Finally, when you have narrowed the field and are engaged in more specific conversations with us, we are prepared to promptly consider other incentives that represent sound economic policy for Illinois and the greater Chicago area,” the letter reads. “We all want to ensure that Illinois and the greater Chicago area are well understood to have a constructive approach to technology and innovation.”

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The package includes $1.32 billion in EDGE tax credits and $172.5 million in sales tax and utility tax exemptions from the state; $61.4 million in property tax discounts from Cook County and Chicago; and $450 million in to-be-determined infrastructure spending from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority and other agencies, sources familiar with the bid confirmed.

“Everything offered in round one of the Amazon bid is consistent with current state law,” Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said in a statement. “The state offered nothing for free. We continue to believe we are the best location based on educated workforce, innovation networks, and transportation infrastructure and look forward to working with Amazon.”

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