Cities vying to become the location of Amazon HQ2 have kept tight lips when discussing what deals they promised to Amazon.
As The New York Times reported, cities nationwide have kept their discussions with Amazon "shrouded in secrecy." City leaders won't discuss with fellow civic leaders or the public what they've agreed to do to bring Amazon to their cities.
"Even civic leaders can't find out what sort of tax credits and other inducements have been promised to Amazon. And there is a growing legal push to find out, because taxpayers could get saddled with a huge bill and have little chance to stop it," according to The New York Times.
That's right. The public might not find out about any tax incentives until after a city wins the HQ2 spot.
Many local private groups are working with the cities to land the HQ2 deal. Local groups and chamber of commerce affiliates don't need to make their information public nor release information to the media, who request information under the Freedom of Information Act.
"I don't know what we offered Amazon in terms of financial incentives, but I believe Amazon wants to see the biggest incentive package that any city will offer them," said Leslie Pool, a member of the Austin City Council.
For example, Austin, Texas, a finalist in Amazon's HQ2 hunt, submitted its bid under the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, which doesn't have a connection to the city council. Internet theorists briefly viewed Austin as a favorite to land the location thanks to a Super Bowl commercial that aired back in February.
Back in May, Amazon reportedly finished visiting all 20 cities on its shortlist for the second headquarters. The company moved "one step further in deciding which city" would host the new HQ2, which will reportedly net $5 billion investment and create 50,000 jobs.
Cities on Amazon's shortlist have seen renewed local interest thanks to the bid, according to NBC News. For example, both Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, saw climbs in economic development inquiries since Amazon announced the shortlist.
"We're seeing this halo effect, and we're excited," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "It has provided renewed interest in the City of Newark. Our city is changing, and this buzz has helped change the perception."
Lauren Cox, who works for Philadelphia's Department of Commerce, told NBC News there's been renewed interest, too.
"Since the HQ2 bid, we have experienced a number of companies who reference the Amazon pitch as a catalyst for their interest in Philadelphia as a location for business operations," she said, according to NBC News. "One London company, which had Philadelphia on its short list last fall, already began its move to the city in January."