Amazon gained a huge perk from its HQ2 contest that’s worth far more than any tax break (AMZN)

Amazon

  • Amazon‘s contest for the home of its second headquarters has helped the company score valuable data on land use and development across the United States.
  • The proposals that 238 cities submitted to Amazon likely contain details about optimal sites for development, current and future land use and development projects, planned infrastructure investments, and demographic information.
  • “Amazon will put that data to prodigious use in the coming years to expand its empire,” says Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington, DC-based think tank.

Amazon’s highly publicized hunt for the site of its new headquarters, HQ2, was a brilliant strategy. 

The contest has resulted in cities warring for Amazon’s favor with offers of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other generous promises.

It has also given Amazon something that’s potentially far more valuable than any subsidies it may have gleaned from this process: a trove of data. 

“Amazon has a god-like view of what’s happening in digital commerce, and now cities have helped give it an inside look at what’s happening in terms of land use and development across the US,” says Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington, DC-based think tank. “Amazon will put that data to prodigious use in the coming years to expand its empire.”

A representative for Amazon did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment. 

Amazon received proposals from 238 cities vying to be chosen as the home of its second headquarters.

While the information in many of those proposals is sealed from the public or otherwise heavily redacted, it’s safe to assume that most contain details about optimal sites for development, current and future land use and development projects, planned infrastructure investments, and demographic information, Mitchell said.

Amazon could use this data to aid in future expansion as it selects sites for new stores, warehouses, data centers, fulfillment centers, and other brick-and-mortar needs.

Read more: Amazon is breaking a central promise of HQ2 by reportedly placing it in 2 different cities

In some cases, the bids could help Amazon get a leg up over its competitors, because the data they contain might not be publicly available.

“This is an incredibly valuable trove of data that 238 cities spent time compiling and submitting to Amazon,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, it may well be that the data is the most valuable thing that Amazon has gotten out of this.”

Read more about Amazon’s HQ2 project:

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