The already heated battle for the coveted Amazon HQ2 project has been a public relations win for the tech giant. But now Amazon is asking the North American cities among the finalists to use a tactic more often associated with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos: Secrecy. CNBC's Scott Cohn confirmed on Thursday that Amazon has insisted cities shift to a confidential pitch mode as the second round progresses.
At stake: a $5 billion facility that will employ 50,000 and boost state coffers by adding billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community over the next 10 to 15 years.
Mayors across North America are choosing their words carefully.
"It's like a poker game," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told CNBC at the United States Conference of Mayors on Thursday, explaining that it's time for cities to play their cards close to the vest. "Bring the bidding war on," he said.
Just not in public.
"We aren't gonna really talk about what's on the table," said Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Browser.
"It's a very secretive process. We're obviously bound by confidentiality," said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
"If I were to lay out out now what we'll offer it would be criticized and looked at, and determined whether it's good or bad," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. But Philly's mayor did provide a little color. "We have people saying we don't want Amazon because housing prices will go up or it will be too crowded. These are problems we'd love to manage."