Baker Bewildered as New Hampshire Bashes Massachusetts in Derby

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By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 19, 2017….In their attempt to lure Amazon and its 50,000 jobs, New Hampshire officials are making one fact quite clear about the Granite State: It’s not Massachusetts.

The New Hampshire bid for Amazon’s second headquarters touts the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto as a way of life and pitches a site in Londonderry as “a mere 40 miles from downtown Boston.”

“Though just over the state line, the site represents a far superior business environment without the cumbersome commute times, taxes, and affordability challenges that plague Boston businesses and their employees,” reads the bid, rolled out Wednesday by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

Asked Thursday about the barbs lobbed over the border by his fellow Republican, Gov. Charlie Baker said it’s a strategy he just doesn’t get.

“Look, everybody’s got to chase this in whatever way they think makes sense,” Baker said during his monthly appearance on WGBH Radio. “I don’t see how that benefits New Hampshire, I really don’t. I mean, if I’m sitting there and I’m Amazon and I’m reading these proposals, I want to judge your proposal based on you. I don’t want to judge it based on how you think you stack up against somebody else.”

But it is a competition and New Hampshire, apparently, thinks it stacks up pretty well against its southern neighbor.

“Choose Boston and next year when you leave your tiny $4,000-a-month apartment only to sit in 2 hours of traffic trying to make your way to an overburdened airport, you’ll be wishing you were in New Hampshire,” the bid says, before encouraging Amazon officials to “Think outside all those boxes and take a deeper look at America’s next high-tech boomtown.”

Baker said on the radio he’d “put our airport up against anybody’s, period.”

“And I’ll put our talent pool up against anybody’s, period, and I think in many respects, Massachusetts, greater Boston, the Merrimack Valley, Central Mass. — we have wonderful things to offer a proposal like this,” he said.

Though several Massachusetts municipalities — Boston, Worcester and Billerica among them — have submitted bids to Amazon, the Baker administration is not backing one particular site and instead is pitching the state as a whole.

Baker said he thinks that move makes sense given Amazon’s broad approach to the process. The massive tech company could easily have sought proposals just from locations they already had in mind, he said, or set more parameters to winnow down the field.

“The way I think about this is, remember the old Model T, back in the day? They looked exactly the same, and they were all black,” Baker said. “There are 250,000 versions of a Ford F-150 which is the single largest selling vehicle in the U.S. I think in a situation like this — this is a very smart company, a very strategic company, give them a whole bunch of options here and let them take a look at all of them and see which ones they think makes sense.”

Proposals to Amazon are due Thursday, and some local bids are already available online or were released to the public. Baker said the state’s proposal will not be released “until I’m sure Amazon’s actually seen it.”