Days after Denver made the list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s new headquarters, Gov. John Hickenlooper tempered expectations about the bid, saying if the tech giant picked another location: “I’m not going to cry.”
“There will be a sense of relief if they choose somewhere else because there are a lot of challenges and lot of hard work we will be avoiding,” Hickenlooper told the City Club of Denver on Tuesday in response to a question about Amazon.
The Democrat is one of the state’s chief recruiters in the effort to bring the Seattle-based company’s $5 billion second home to the Denver area, and he acknowledged the sentiment is not a popular one, particularly as other locations gush about the potential investment. “Nobody tweet that,” he quipped after his remarks.
Hickenlooper said the state is “legitimately and sincerely” pursuing the company and later clarified in an interview that he thinks the bid’s pros outweigh the cons. “I wouldn’t pursue it if I didn’t think it’s the right thing,” he said.
The challenge, Hickenlooper said, is the growth impact on the already-crowded Denver area with the addition of as many as 50,000 employees Amazon is promising. The governor said he believes Amazon “would be willing to be our partner” in dealing with that issue.
Colorado submitted a single bid that offered at least eight sites in the Denver area that met Amazon’s criteria. And the governor added Tuesday that it includes “three to four really good sites” to accommodate a growing company. The state offered potential financial incentives that could exceed $100 million to lure the project.
The remarks are not the first time Hickenlooper tried to downplay the state’s odds. Last October, he called it a “longshot” effort, in large part because of Colorado’s distance from the Eastern time zone.
Earlier in the speech, Hickenlooper, the former Denver mayor, appeared to caution the members of the civic organization not to speak too quickly against additional business development and growth, as he sensed “we are not far away from the tide of public opinion turning.”
If city leaders decide Denver has grown too much, he said, “we should be very thoughtful because once you make that decision — however you state it, telling the Olympics to go away or or whatever — it’s very, very hard to take that kind of a sentiment back and say, ‘Oh we were just kidding.’”