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100-plus contenders imagine hosting Amazon’s HQ2

In the 7 days since Amazon said it would build a second headquarters outside Seattle, officials in more than 100 places have expressed interest. How they match Amazon’s wish list remains to be seen. Experts say some regions are likely to offer billions in incentives.

The Amazon gold rush is on.

At least 101 cities, states, provinces and counties in the U.S. and Canada have indicated they are interested in the Seattle company’s second headquarters in the week since Amazon announced it was seeking bidders for the megaproject.

They range from obvious big-city candidates like Chicago, to a joint effort by smaller towns in North Carolina tobacco and textile country, and a push championed by the University of Maryland in suburban Washington, D.C.

It’s unclear how many of these prospective bidders will send the online retail giant formal paperwork by the company’s Oct. 19 deadline. Some don’t appear to fit the criteria Amazon laid out for its second home.

Still, the rush for mayors and economic-development officials to announce their candidacy reflects Amazon’s growing influence, as well as the unprecedented scale of its offer.

This isn’t a distribution center or engineering office Amazon is promising, but a $5 billion campus of as many as 50,000 employees, pitched as “a full equal” to the company’s massive Seattle home.

A company that once sat on the fringes of economy in online commerce, and has sometimes been seen as a threat to Main Street jobs, is dangling a project that has the potential to instantly become a cornerstone of some region’s economy.

Amazon has invited tax breaks and other incentives in its request for proposals, and economic-development experts say some regions are likely to respond with packages valued in the billions.

Elected officials may ultimately be competing to offer Amazon an incentive package that could exceed the record subsidy Boeing received from Washington…

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