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Republicans' spat with Delta could hurt Georgia's Amazon hopes

Could Georgia Republicans' spat with Delta threaten Atlanta's bid to land Amazon's ...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 6:25 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 6:25 AM

Could Georgia Republicans' spat with Delta threaten Atlanta's bid to land Amazon's second headquarters?

The city is on Amazon's short list of the 20 metro areas still in running for the $5 billion facility that will create 50,000 jobs. The company received proposals from 238 cities and regions across North America.

Experts say Atlanta's cost of living, talent pool and access to the world's busiest airport (despite its major power outage last year) are some of its biggest draws. But the state's current political climate could cause Amazon to think twice.

Georgia Republicans are threatening to kill a tax break for Delta over the airline's move to sever ties with the National Rifle Association following a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Related: The controversy that could hold back some Amazon HQ2 contenders

"This could absolutely give Amazon pause," said Neeraj Arora, a marketing professor at the Wisconsin School of Business. "The company has taken a stance on social issues in the past."

Some experts believe the Republicans' move is political posturing without any real threat of policy change. Still, they say it's cause for concern that a high-ranking government official is willing to attack a company over canceling an NRA travel discount program.

"Georgia has really hurt their Amazon bids in recent weeks," said Nathan Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

It also indicates the political environment may not be stable, according to Brian Richter, an assistant professor of business, government and society at the McCombs School of Business.

"It signals to Amazon that politicians in Georgia are more concerned about scoring points with constituents sympathetic to a particular social view than they are about whatever business or economic rationale they may have to direct benefits to a specific firm," he said.

Other companies thinking about expanding to Georgia could worry about politics interfering with business, as well, according to Wisconsin's Arora.

Related: Amazon urged to pick LGBT-friendly cities for HQ2

Meanwhile, a recent bill passed by the Georgia Senate allows adoption agencies funded with taxpayer money to refuse to work with same-sex couples. This could be an even bigger concern for Amazon, which has been a vocal advocate for the LGBT community.

In 2016, Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a "religious liberty" bill that would have allowed religious organizations in the state to deny services and jobs to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. However, Deal leaves office in 2018, and some of his possible replacements have reportedly said they would support similar laws.

Deal's Chief of Staff Chris Riley said any future efforts to pass similar bills could hurt the state's chances with Amazon, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Riley did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, a campaign called "No Gay? No Way!" urged Amazon to build its second headquarters in a state that protects LGBT people from discrimination.

Nine of the finalists on Amazon's short list -- Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Raleigh and Northern Virginia -- are in states that fail to protect LGBT people from employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination, according to the campaign.

Related: The genius strategy behind Amazon's HQ2 search

A spokesperson for the city of Atlanta said it cannot comment on anything related to the Amazon bid, but pointed to its record on LGBT issues, such as its non-discrimination laws.

"Amazon's workforce will certainly have employees of all races, gender identities and sexual orientations," said Joseph Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.

"They want to attract those folks regardless of their background or personal choices, and will not want to operate in a cultural or political climate that may hinder attracting a diverse workforce," he said.

However, Parilla believes Amazon will also weigh this against other key factors outlined in its request for proposals, such as access to mass transit, quality of life and tax incentives.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment. But one of the company's criteria for HQ2 is a diverse population and a place that is a "cultural community fit." This would include considering inclusion policies.

CNN's Jill Disis and Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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