SAN ANTONIO – City Council members had a mix of reactions, including surprise, to the news San Antonio is backing out of the race to snag Amazon's second headquarters.
The online retail giant's search for a new home where it will employ up to 50,000 people has become a much-coveted prize for cities across the nation. However in an open letter to Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos on Wednesday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the city would not be submitting a formal application, saying "blindly giving away the farm isn't our style."
Some on the council agreed with the move.
"I don't think we're the type of community that's willing to sell everything in order to bring them here," said District 9 Councilman John Courage.
Courage and others questioned whether San Antonio was competitive enough to get the headquarters.
"Despite all the things we have going for us, there are some things we need to address to attract really powerful companies like that," said District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, noting the city's need for a robust transportation system as well as its economic segregation and dropout rate.
At least one, District 10's Clayton Perry, thought Amazon wouldn't have been a good fit anyway.
"To me personally, I think it's too big of an impact here for San Antonio and again I want to keep San Antonio the way San Antonio is," Perry said.
While District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse agreed with the Nirenberg and Wolff's aversion to "giving away the farm" be believes the city should have at least tried to get the headquarters.
"It's OK to not win, but it's not OK to not compete," he said, noting also that the announcement took him by surprise.
"I'm still a little stunned by it. I mean it came out of nowhere in the first place, and the first place I learned about it was on Facebook," Brockhouse said. "So I mean what kind of communication are we talking about when the community learns about these things - or the City Council learns about them - you know, through social media?"
He wasn't alone. Several council members said they heard about the letter from the news.
"I would have liked to have been notified about it beforehand, but I know there were a lot of conversations happening," said District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran.
"I respect the decision of the mayor and the judge not to pursue it, but I think we still have lots of opportunities," said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales. "Perhaps if there'd have been further discussion we could have given our recommendation on why we should have continued."
District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez would not say whether or not he knew about the decision beforehand, but said he was "not surprised by this," and he is "in 100 percent agreement."
The city is not completely closing the door on Amazon coming to town.
Speaking with KSAT on Wednesday, Nirenberg said "If they choose to come to San Antonio, we welcome them. That would be a good business decision because of the city we're building. We're not going to mortgage our future to bring Amazon here."