SALT LAKE CITY — While over 200 cities, states and provinces responded to the $5 billion/50,000 job carrot dangled by Amazon's secondary headquarters proposal back in December, all but 20 got the stick Thursday — including Utah — when the company released its short list of finalists.
The call for proposals for the so-called HQ2 incited a scramble enticements and incentive offerings from prospective hosts for the new campus, but Utah's approach, led by the Governor's Office of Economic Development, was one in keeping with state entities' penchant for prudence. GOED Executive Director Val Hale told the Deseret News in September, shortly after the HQ2 news became public, that Utah would be taking a measured approach in assembling its proposal.
"We don't get flashy and our incentives are never the most lucrative," Hale said. "We protect the taxpayer by not paying companies up front. We'll always be fundamentally based on post-performance."
Hale, who was attending the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit Thursday, was pragmatic about the negative outcome for Utah.
"Certainly, there's a lot of disappointment," Hale said. "But, looking at the short list we can see that the cities were of much larger populations than we have here and almost all were on the East Coast."
Hale added that he did get a call Thursday morning from Amazon reps who said they were "very impressed" with Utah's proposal and noted their appreciation for the work that went into it.
Some reaction on Amazon's decision to exclude Utah from the list of finalists from other local tech leaders attending the summit on Thursday:
• Dave Elkington, founder/CEO of InsideSales:
"It could have been good but look, we're doing some great things here with up-and-coming companies in a lot of different areas. I think we're going to be more than OK without them. Great things are happening here."
• Cydni Tetro, co-founder/president of Women Tech Council:
"When you look at Amazon's list of full requirements, it probably should not be a surprise. We've got infrastructure challenges that need our attention. That said, I don't think (the decision) is in any way a comment about the strength of our tech community and we should keep going after every opportunity."
• John Knotwell, president/CEO of Utah Technology Council:
"It's a disappointment but we are thriving and are going to continue to thrive. Our tech community is growing in depth and breadth, and this won't impact that at all."