Clayton County off metro longshots list for Amazon second headquarters

Even though its chances of luring Amazon to Clayton County were about slim to none, the chairman of the county commission says they’re definitely out of the running for the e-commerce giant’s second headquarters after an official allegedly failed to follow the rules.

In a tense exchange at the commission's Tuesday meeting, Chairman Jeff Turner accused fellow board member Michael Edmondson of breaking protocol and pitching the Mountain View area as a potential site directly to the Amazon. That angered the state Department of Economic Development, which has taken the lead in wooing Amazon, and resulted in Georgia ditching of Clayton's proposal, Turner said.

“I’m trying to mend some fences because the department of economic development is really upset with Clayton County for trying to circumvent their authority,” said Turner, who invited Edmondson to accompany him to a meeting with the state in two weeks.

Edmondson, who is head of Clayton’s Development Authority, denied the claim and said he has had no contact with the state on the issue. He agreed to attend the meeting with Turner.

Attracting Amazon was a big deal for Clayton as it tries to diversify its economy. Even though its chances were arguably very low, Clayton had hoped luring a high-paying white-collar employer like Amazon's HQ2 would balance the hundreds of warehousing and distribution center jobs the county has added over the last five years.

Kennesaw State University economist Roger Tutterow applauded the county for its ambition, but said Clayton was never seriously in the running. It needs more moderate growth before it is ready for such a big leap.

“For areas that don’t have track records of attracting a lot of corporate relocations, probably smaller wins are more realistic,” he said. “And it’s not just the southern crescent, not every part of metro Atlanta is having great success at attracting white-collar corporate relocations.”

Stefanie Paupeck Harper, a spokeswoman for the state economic development department, said Amazon asked that submissions be submitted through states as part of its proposal request.

Clayton announced its intention to pitch Mountain View — an area of hundreds of acres of land near I-75 and the airport’s international gates — last October. A moratorium on development in the area followed, but at some point the development authority launched a master plan study that looked at other uses for the land.