Amazon HQ sweepstakes will be huge deal

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – While the Tennessee Department of Community and Economic Development has been typically mum about potential big deals like chasing Amazon’s second headquarters, local officials have been anything but silent.

Both the mayors of Memphis and Nashville indicated strong interest in the hours after the announcement last week that Amazon would invest $5 billion, creating 50,000 jobs somewhere likely in the eastern part of the United States.

Along with the state’s biggest cities, other local Tennessee leaders are interested.

“I think anywhere in Tennessee would be good,” said State Senate Republican Caucus Chair Bill Ketron. “But I would like it to be in Rutherford County, Murfreesboro.”

Of course that is the area Ketron represents.

He thinks the two Amazon distribution centers that are already nearby in Rutherford and Wilson counties will help.

“I think it would be a perfect place for them to locate in Murfreesboro, which will put this headquarters for the eastern side of the country in between two of Amazon’s fulfillment centers,” he said.

Any pitch to Amazon will come with lucrative incentive packages cobbled together by local and state governments.

This often includes land, infrastructure and tax reductions based on jobs.

When the Volkswagen plant came to Chattanooga, the incentive package was more than a half a billion dollars, but even conservative state Republican leaders see the value of such deals.

“Commercial growth pays for itself,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Glen Casada. “And that is why Tennessee is doing so well is that we are recruiting businesses and commercial [interests] to the state and that is why we are in such good shape with our debt and low taxes.”

How the rest of the legislature here looks at chasing Amazon and its 50,000 jobs will be a major issue when lawmakers come back here in January.

Amazon is expected to make a decision in 2018.

Along with Memphis. Nashville, and Rutherford County, Collierville officials and Williamson County leaders have expressed an interest in the Amazon sweepstakes.