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Amazon headquarters reports have Atlanta on the outside looking in

Metro Atlanta’s hopes for landing Amazon’s second headquarters apparently have dimmed dramatically as news reports focus on company discussions with other cities.

Months have passed since Amazon executives had discussions with Georgia officials about metro Atlanta’s bid to land the online giant’s proposed HQ2 project and 50,000 jobs, said a state official who was not authorized to comment.

That silence comes as news reports swirl about Amazon having advanced talks with other cities.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source, reported Monday that the Seattle-based tech giant now intends to split the project between two cities to help ensure it can recruit enough workers, with 25,000 employees planned in each locale. The publication said Amazon hadn’t made a final selection on which cities, but on Sunday the newspaper reported the company was in discussions with Crystal City, Va., in the Washington D.C. area, as well as Dallas and New York City.

A day earlier, the Washington Post reported “advanced talks” between the company and Crystal City, including mention about how Amazon’s announcement might be made. The outlet cited “people close to the process.”

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On Monday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters “I don’t think they have made a final determination yet, but we stand ready to respond to any concerns they might have.”

Amazon put out an unusually public call for proposals from cities interested in landing perhaps the biggest corporate location project in the nation’s history. In January, the company included Atlanta on a list of 20 cities it was still considering. The company said it would announce a location this year.

The list of top areas included three in the Washington D.C. area.

Deal said Monday that that was an indication the nation’s capital and surrounding area might be favored by Amazon. “Their business, I suppose, does require some engagement with the federal government.”

Deal on Monday pointed out that Amazon has located fulfillment centers in Georgia and continues to add jobs locally.

But boosters around the nation were drawn to the HQ2 project’s potential for a massive number of high paying jobs, a big image boost and the potential to draw related businesses. The interest sparked expectations that winning Amazon’s favor might require multi-billion-dollar economic incentive packages from state and local governments. Deal had once talked about the possibility of calling a special session of the Georgia Legislature to approve extra incentives.

On Monday, Deal downplayed any disappointments over Amazon.

“We are not going to have our hearts broken if they decide to go somewhere else,” he said.

Deal spoke during a gathering called to highlight Georgia’s business climate being selected No. 1 in the nation for the sixth year in a row by Site Selection, an economic development trade publication.

“We are still the No. 1 state in which to do business,” the governor said when asked about Amazon. “If they don’t recognize that, that’s up to them.”

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