Amazon Seattle

GSI’s Two Inches of Secrecy

In recent weeks our friends at Greater Spokane, Inc. (GSI), have submitted a two-inch-thick proposal to Amazon in an effort to entice 50,000 jobs to the metro. In comparison, the Spokane Tribe of Indians also submitted a local proposal, which is 30 pages long. The state of Washington’s proposal is 16 pages long.

Since GSI’s proposal was submitted, Spokane’s leadership circles have been pressing GSI to release copies of it to them. A fair and reasonable request considering it’s Spokane’s leadership circles – like the city, the county, and the airport district – that will approve the incentives should Amazon select GSI’s proposal.

That is to say, it won’t be GSI negotiating with Amazon; it will be those that have the authority and the means to provide incentives that will be negotiating with Amazon. To be clear, GSI has no means, and GSI has no authority to negotiate public incentives with anyone, much less Amazon, which is why the secrecy around their proposal is so baffling. GSI is hiding the ball from the very people that own the ball.

When the HQ2 proposal was released, there was hope amongst leadership circles in the metro that this was the opportunity to innovate the stale and un-strategic manner by which GSI organizes economic development proposals. Even further, there was hope amongst leadership circles that Amazon would be the catalyst that will force GSI to recognize their standard operating procedure is ineffective.

Tragically, and par for the Spokane Nice course, everyone knew going into the Amazon-bid organizational process that GSI was not the appropriate entity to lead it and submit a proposal on behalf of the metro. Everyone knew but GSI, that is. Yet everyone in a position to take their toys and create a new sandbox yielded, once again, to GSI. (Everyone except the Spokane Tribe, anyway.)

The narrative around the entire process was “let’s use this as an opportunity to recognize the inadequacies of our economic development system and innovate into something better.” Now the Amazon process has come and gone, and here we are again, reliving the same bad dream – the same bad proposals – over and over. Clearly, it’s time for local leadership to live up to the narrative they created for themselves. The inadequacies of our economic development system are more apparent than ever. Now it’s time to move into the innovation phase of the narrative. It’s time to create a new sandbox.

So… what exactly is in GSI’s two-inch-thick proposal? By way of incentives, the most robust were offered by the Airport District and Airport Public Development Authority — both transparent public entities. We also know there were private land owners that submitted potential sites. Promotional pieces were provided by local housing developers, Spokane Transit Authority, and certainly GSI recycled verbiage from other proposals into this one.

Sum it all up and you have two inches of other peoples’ work that GSI stitched together into something they claim as their own. If you want to know what’s in GSI’s proposal, don’t call GSI — call the people that wrote it for them.