Dayton urges release of more Amazon bid details

Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday that more details from Minnesota’s failed bid for the second Amazon corporate headquarters should be made public.

Minnesota didn’t make a list of 20 finalists for the project, which could result in thousands of jobs and billions in private investment for the community that lands it. Since submitting the proposal last fall, the team that put in Minnesota’s proposal has declined to release the plan presented to the e-retailing behemoth.

Dayton said he has spoken with officials from Greater MSP, which partnered with the state to develop the bid. He said the plan should be disclosed unless it contains proprietary details or would break a signed agreement.

“I’m for full disclosure,” Dayton said. “There was nothing in there to my knowledge that anyone needs to be concerned about disclosing, and I think full disclosure serves the process well.”

Around the country, cities and states offered tax subsidies or promises to clear red tape in exchange for hosting the Amazon expansion.

Unlike some other regions that offered billions of dollars in incentives, state leaders said Minnesota offered existing state incentive programs totaling $3 million to $5 million and the suggestion that additional help could come from the Legislature.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development has said Greater MSP has sole custody of Minnesota’s bid. So far the non-profit has declined to make the full proposal public.

Greater MSP spokesman Mike Brown said in an email Tuesday that further release of information is under consideration.

“Right now, we are working to understand what the right balance is between transparency and confidentiality.  We believe that any information regarding public money needs to be transparent, and so all of that information has been released,” Brown said. “We will continue to review the remainder of the information.”

Brown said the organization signed a three-year non-disclosure agreement with Amazon that applies to certain details. He said public financial data is not covered by that agreement.

“We believe that there is proprietary information contained in the proposal.  This is related to competitive information, site specifics and insight that will be useful to future projects on which Greater MSP and our partners will work,” Brown said. “We are in the process of reviewing this information to determine what exactly is proprietary and what is not. To be clear, none of this proprietary information includes any financial data or incentives offered to Amazon.”

Senate Tax Committee Chair Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, applauded Dayton for his call to release bid information but in a statement said that “passively suggesting the bid be released is not enough. The governor needs to take action, use the power of his office, and order the bid released.”