Amazon says cities are free to disclose their bids for the retailer’s second headquarters, but, hewing to typical corporate recruiting practices, many are staying silent. Eventually, public-records laws may force their hand, corporate location consultants say.
Economic-development groups that court corporations are often structured as private or semiprivate entities, in part to avoid the public-disclosure rules that might tip off the public, or competitors, to a search, said Andy Shapiro, a corporate site location consultant.
Still, when talks advance and cities and states start discussing potential deal sweeteners like tax abatements, open records laws typically apply and force disclosure of some elements of the proceedings, or even approval by public bodies.
“You’re dealing with public moneys that you’re giving to a private company,” said Shapiro, a managing director at Biggins Lacy Shapiro. “That’s when they have to give way to the public’s right to know, because you’re spending public resources.”
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