How much will New York offer for Amazon HQ2?

ALBANY - New York will offer Amazon a one-size-fits-all package of tax breaks and incentives in hopes of wooing the company to build a $5 billion campus anywhere in the state.

Empire State Development, the state's economic-development branch, is crafting the taxpayer-backed package ahead of the Thursday deadline to express interest in Amazon's HQ2 project, which promises to create up to 50,000 jobs in a North American metropolitan area of at least 1 million people.

The state's incentive proposal will apply to any location in New York, home to at least a half dozen locales competing for the Amazon facilities, including New York City, Westchester County and a joint bid from Buffalo and Rochester.

But the state does not plan to publicly reveal the total cost of the tax breaks -- which could total hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars -- during the bidding process, according to ESD.

That stands in contrast to New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie this week publicly dangled $7 billion in tax breaks over 20 years in support of Newark's bid for Amazon's campus.

Robert Duffy, president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, said ESD has been clear to applicants that its incentive offer "will apply to all the areas" in New York.

Duffy's organization helped put together the Rochester-Buffalo bid.

"The state has been clear that it is not going to play favorites for any of the applicants across the state," said Duffy, the state's former lieutenant governor. "It will be consistent across the state, and the governor and the state will not play favorites in this."

Business and government leaders from at least a half dozen New York cities and counties have said they are seeking the Amazon site.

ESD has been working to collect information on potential facilities and letters of support from the various locales, which will then be submitted to Amazon ahead of the Thursday deadline.

New York City, for example, has identified at least two dozen spaces within the five boroughs that it says could handle the massive space requirements the company is seeking, including an initial request for 500,000 square feet of building space.

The city planned Wednesday night to light the Empire State Building and other buildings in orange -- the color of Amazon's logo -- in support of its bid.

"The case for bringing Amazon's new headquarters to New York City is simple: We are the global capital of commerce, culture and innovation," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Directly to the city's north, Westchester County has identified six different spaces for the company's second headquarters, identifying facilities in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains, Elmsford and former IBM and PepsiCo properties in Somers as potential landing spots.

George Oros, Westchester's economic development commissioner, said he's been in frequent contact with ESD officials in recent months, gathering support from community leaders and working to ensure the county was identifying locations that comply with Amazon's requirements.

"We're working very closely with ESD," Oros said. "We gave a lot of reasons why Westchester should be selected. The major thing is we have a very talented workforce, with 47 percent of Westchester residents over the age of 25 college educated or better."

Buffalo and Rochester, meanwhile, decided to join forces earlier this month to bolster their chances, highlighting the area's strong higher-education institutions while hoping to assuage concerns that their individual markets couldn't fill the 50,000 expected jobs.

Other areas that have expressed interest include Long Island, whose two counties are backing a joint bid, and Albany, which could struggle to meet Amazon's population criteria.

For his part, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month that he will back all of the proposals coming from the Empire State rather than a single city's bid.

"I support all New York applications," Cuomo told reporters in Rochester.

"We are actively working to woo (Amazon), yes. Now obviously, it's their selection and their criteria, but anything they could want, we have in New York state. So we're working very hard."

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