Commerce RI: Releasing full Amazon pitch ‘may be challenging’

A state rendering of how Amazon HQ2 could look in the Pawtucket-Central Falls region.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Even though Rhode Island has failed to make the shortlist of potential sites for Amazon’s new second headquarters, the state’s commerce secretary said officials may still keep their pitch to the e-commerce giant under wraps.

“We think that, because we are in continuing discussions and negotiations with the company about other possibilities, that may be challenging,” Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said about releasing the full proposal to the public.

The state has released renderings and a video but so far kept the rest of the 125-page pitch under wraps. On Thursday, Pryor wouldn’t disclose the dollar amount of incentives the state offered to Amazon.

Pryor said he received a call from an Amazon representative Thursday morning telling him the state hadn’t made the cut. Pryor said the Amazon rep “expressed enthusiasm” for the application, however, calling it “creative and compelling.” He said he is now hopeful that the application has opened doors for other opportunities.

“We’re in discussions with the company in other ways as well,” Pryor said. “What they expressed to us today is by submitting what they considered a high-quality presentation and proposal, we’ve elevated their consciousness of us, and we’re going to continue our dialogue with the company.”

Pryor said Amazon “has already arrived” in Rhode Island, pointing to the arrival of Pinnacle, a shipping and handling company, at T.F. Green and Quonset. He said their operations serving Amazon have already created hundreds of jobs. (A state official confirmed earlier this month Pinnacle had let go of 45 workers following the holidays.)

Amazon said Rhode Island submitted one of 238 proposals in a bid to get its HQ2, with officials pitching seven sites across the state in places like Warwick, Providence and North Kingstown. Amazon has said the new headquarters could be up to 8 million square feet and employ 50,000 people with an average salary of $100,000. Boston did make the cut, leading some to express hope there could be spillover benefits for Rhode Island if Massachusetts lands the facility.

Although Rhode Island is not among the 20 locations on Amazon’s short list, Pryor said he wouldn’t have done anything differently.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we, though it was a long shot, we took the shot,” he said.