Gov. Nathan Deal said Georgia will offer the biggest incentive package in state history to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to metro Atlanta, and unveiled plans to call lawmakers to a special session to hash out the lucrative offer if the tech giant lists Georgia as a top finalist.
The Republican governor said Wednesday it would be “presumptuous” to try to guess what Amazon is going to do, and added that he would summon legislators back to Atlanta if the city is among the company’s top three choices.
“It may be months before Amazon makes a decision or even narrows their choices, and we have many important issues to consider in the interim during this legislative session,” he told a crowd of business leaders and lawmakers at the Eggs & Issues breakfast.
“We cannot waste valuable time, energy and effort when what we should be doing is focusing on enhancing those issues which have already made us an attractive candidate to Amazon.”
Georgia is one of 238 official bidders for Amazon's North American headquarters and the coveted project is expected to create 50,000 new jobs and involve $5 billion in new investment. The international sweepstakes has triggered an Olympics-like chase for Atlanta.
Securing the deal will surely require a trove of incentives, with some analysts saying it could take at least $1 billion in tax breaks, transportation upgrades and grants.
The hunt for Amazon has loomed over legislators as lawmakers convene in an election-year session.
Top Republicans have warned that reigniting a contentious debate over “religious liberty” could jeopardize the state’s bid. And some conservatives are wary of the prospect of offering huge incentives to a Fortune 500 behemoth.
Georgia officials delivered the state's official pitch for the project in October, and state leaders have expect Amazon officials to scour potential sites in Atlanta.
Amazon has said it plans to pick its second headquarters city this year. Austin, Denver, Toronto and Washington are among the cities considered to be top competitors to Atlanta.
The governor asked state leaders at the annual breakfast sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to pull together behind the bid.
“As we know, there is a time and a season for all things,” he said. “And when the right time comes, we will focus our full attention and efforts on the success Amazon can enjoy by bringing their second headquarters to Georgia.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com