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Somerville Sweetened Amazon HQ2 Bid With Marshmallow Fluff, Not Tax Breaks

(Elise Amendola/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
(Elise Amendola/AP)

Crystal City, Virginia, and Long Island City, New York, might've offered Amazon more than $2 billion combined in incentives to lure the company's second headquarters — but do they have a Fluff Festival?

According to a document released to WBUR Wednesday after a records request, Somerville didn't offer up any tax breaks, incentives or free land to the retail giant, but — among its selling points — it did pitch its status as the place marshmallow Fluff was invented.

Amazon sent a 29-page request for information to Somerville (and possibly other HQ2 finalist cities) asking about everything from early childhood STEM training, to housing costs, to the price of an avocado at a local Whole Foods.

Under the "Cultural Activities, including Performing Arts, Fine Arts, Cultural Venues, and Festivals" question, Somerville gave Fluff Fest top billing:

Somerville prides itself on being unique and the city’s numerous quirky festivals and cultural events are no exception. Every year the City celebrates the invention Fluff; a delicious marshmallow sandwich spread invented right here in Somerville. Dozens of community and business partners participate in a full day of family friendly activities: from Fluff musical chairs and Fluff jousting, to photo opportunities with the Flufferettes to marshmallow-launching-robots built by students from the high school’s First Robotics team.

In its 125-page response to Amazon, Somerville officials dug into the questions Amazon had. They wrote at length about the city's diversity (50 different languages are spoken by students in its schools), its efforts to increase affordable housing and its STEM programs for students.

But mostly left blank is the section on incentives. The only offer made was that the city would "consider hiring a full-time ombudsman for this development project, and/or assign a dedicated team to facilitate permitting and approvals."

Somerville told Amazon that it wouldn't make commercial sites available for free, and also checked no, or left blank, every question asking for help with dedicated transit for the project.

And the cost of the avocado: $1.25 on Amazon Fresh.

Related:

Ally Jarmanning Twitter Digital Producer
Ally is a reporter who champions data and public records in the WBUR newsroom.

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