Amazon unveils 20-city short list for $5 billion second headquarters

Amazon, with its Spheres under construction at the Amazon Urban Campus in Seattle, on Thursday unveiled its 20 finalist cities in which to build its second headquarters.

We take a backseat to no one in our love of Louisiana, but our affection didn’t blind us to the long odds the state faced in landing a huge headquarters office for mega online retailer Amazon.

We didn’t expect state officials to reel in this economic development prize, which is much sought after by communities around the country. The hands-down favorites to nab the Amazon site, expected to create 50,000 jobs, are large urban centers not found in Louisiana. It was no big surprise that the state didn’t make the first cut and remain on the list of 20 finalists.

Even so, there’s a truism that participating in a job interview can yield lots of lessons, even if a candidate doesn’t get the position. The same is true, we think, in economic development. Though Amazon was probably never serious about coming to Louisiana, our nominal bid for the project was instructive. Louisiana Economic Development, the state’s lead agency in luring the retailer, offered some $6.5 billion in incentives over two decades to court the online giant.

It was a signature Louisiana move: Overlook our lagging fundamentals, and we’ll write you a big check. Here’s a better approach: Stabilize state finances, improve elementary and secondary education, invest in colleges and universities, spend money on roads and infrastructure.

Build a better Louisiana, in other words, and people will come.