Sununu: ‘We always knew’ bid for Amazon was a long shot

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s failed bid for Amazon’s second headquarters ultimately will succeed in attracting other businesses, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday, drawing quick criticism from doubtful Democrats.

Seattle-based Amazon on Thursday named 20 cities that still are being considered for a second headquarters. New Hampshire’s proposal was not on the list, but Sununu said the real value was creating a marketing strategy it can use with other companies.

“While we always knew that our bid was considered a long shot, we are excited that it is already serving as a template for other businesses that now have New Hampshire on their radar. Our commitment to economic and workforce development is already yielding results,” he said.

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Sununu did not name specific companies, and Democrats argued that if Sununu truly wanted to attract businesses, he would invest more in education, workforce development and increasing the minimum wage.

“It is easy to talk about creating jobs, attracting employers and growing the economy,” said former Portsmouth major Steve Marchand, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. “Gov. Sununu has not spent years thinking, learning and leading on these issues, and New Hampshire pays the price for it in the form of lost opportunities.”

New Hampshire’s Amazon proposal was centered in Londonderry and emphasized the state’s lack of a sales or income tax.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said New Hampshire might have had a better shot at the Amazon headquarters had Sununu not waited until recently to support studying the feasibility of bringing commuter rail to the state. Sununu opposed spending $3.6 million on commuter rail study as a member of the Executive Council and while campaigning for governor. But as part of the Amazon bidding process, he now supports it.

A $4 million study was included in the 10-year draft transportation plan his office released Wednesday, though lawmakers have repeatedly rejected the idea.

Republican House Speaker Gene Chandler said he remains concerned about how much the state would have to spend to subsidize rail service.

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“While some would argue that the study would be using $4 million of federal money, I still don’t think it would lead to anything that we can accomplish in New Hampshire,” he said.