Economic Development

So just how much did Philly spend on its bid to win Amazon's HQ2?

As part of Philadelphia's pitch to bring Amazon's HQ2 to the city, buses in Amazon's hometown of Seattle were wrapped with Philly-centric ads. Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.

As part of Philadelphia's pitch to bring Amazon's HQ2 to the city, buses in Amazon's hometown of Seattle were wrapped with Philly-centric ads. Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.

In its bid to become home to the next Amazon headquarters, Philadelphia crafted a sparkling sales pitch replete with videos, interactive maps, testimonies from business leaders and a lengthy written proposal.

The bid, marketed as “Philly Delivers,” is unlike any the city had previously made to curry favor with a corporation — and it didn’t come cheap. 

So far, Philly agencies have spent nearly a quarter-million dollars on the campaign’s various incentivizing efforts.

Total price tag? $245,000.

Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation contracted with six local businesses to put together the bid’s slick digital and written components, according to Jessica Calter, PIDC’s vice president of marketing communications. In all, it spent $160,000, funded by a mix of public and private dollars.

Visit Philly also reportedly spent $85,000 on bus wraps and a social media campaign in Seattle, the site of Amazon’s corporate headquarters. Running through the end of November, the ad blitz doesn’t mention HQ2, as the new headquarters is commonly referred to, or Amazon specifically, but the goal is clear: keep Philadelphia’s virtues in Amazon’s sightline. 

Visit Philly is funded by the city’s hotel tax and various foundation grants. For PIDC’s part, Calter said that the money came from the Economic Stimulus Program — “a revolving fund initially capitalized with City funds” — as well as grants from the Knight Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. 

“We focused dollars on the marketing assets that will be used beyond this effort,” Calter said. “We are confident this was money well spent on a project that speaks of Philadelphia’s worth not just to Amazon but to all businesses looking to relocate or grow here.”

The reception to Philly’s bid has been mostly positive. Win or lose, advocates say the effort brought Philly’s business community together and showed that city can make a convincing pitch on the national stage. But critics have derided Amazon’s whole experiment, arguing that it essentially extorted local governments, even those with little competitive standing, into promising public resources and grovelling at the feet of a corporate giant. Is a city’s dignity worth sacrificing for the estimated 50,000 jobs and massive economic stimulus that would come with a new Amazon HQ? 

It depends on whom you ask.

Philadelphia’s was one of 238 bids the retail juggernaut received. Even going by Amazon’s own prerequisites, however, most of the municipalities that submitted bids are a longshot. 

Nonetheless, the bids came eagerly from every corner of the country, and initial news reports suggest that the participating municipalities collectively spent millions on the competition.

Albany, New York, spent $100,000 on its pitch, according to news reports. But these dollar amounts pale next to some of the old-fashioned financial incentives offered up to the tech giant. Newark, New Jersey, promised Amazon $7 billion in a host of city and state tax breaks to open up shop there.

Among the more desperate pleas for Jeff Bezos’ attention: Stonecrest, Georgia, proposed to de-annex 345 acres of land to create a new city called “Amazon,” and install the billionaire CEO as its mayor. In a more bizarre solicitation, Tucson, Arizona, expressed its interest in the form of a 21-foot saguaro cactus sent to the tech giant’s Seattle headquarters. 

Amazon turned the cactus down.

TWITTER: @MAXMMARIN

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.