There used to be a picnic basket auction in 4H and other clubs where teenage boys bid on baskets prepared by girls in the club.

Who made up each basket was supposed to be anonymous and the winning bidder on each one would enjoy the picnic with the girl who made it.

Of course we boys knew who made up most of the baskets and vied to win the bid on the baskets of the popular girls.

The fundraising events were a study in irrational spending as hormonally raging teen boys drove up the price of baskets.

Reminds me a lot of the bidding for the next Amazon headquarters.

Amazon is planning to build a second headquarters that would cost $5 billion and employ up to 50,000 people. The online giant invited cities and states to bid on landing the project and received 238 submissions.

Cities making the bids are drooling over an economic developer's dream of landing the headquarters.

They're also throwing open the public coffers to Amazon with an array of tax incentives and giveaways. Unfortunately. the people who pay the taxes have no idea what those promised handouts are. Amazon is requiring a "non-disclosure" agreement from those making bids.

Many bidders got loopy as the headiness of being HQ2 for Amazon. A Georgia city "de-annexed" hundreds of acres of land and renamed it "Amazon." Tucson delivered a 21-foot cactus to Amazon headquarters. Other communities and states had similarly bizarre stunts.

While much of the country was swooning, Minnesota was one of the few that kept its head. The governor and other officials delivered a bid that practical and financially sensible Minnesotans should be proud of. They listed the normal tax incentives any business can apply for and touted our strengths: great education, good culture, natural beauty and a killer work ethic.

No one really expects Amazon will place its headquarters here. Which is just as well.

Yes, a bunch of good-paying jobs and all the status and spinoffs Amazon would create is a boon. But the down sides could be pretty spectacular, too.

Rents and home prices would soar, hurting those already struggling to pay for housing. Commutes around the Twin Cities would go from the current tedious and sometimes frustrating to all-out gridlock. Many in Shakopee — where a new Amazon warehouse recently opened and is hiring 2,500 people — are already regretting the loss of their mid-size community feel and all the added traffic from the semis and workers.

As far as jobs, there is virtually full employment now. In fact most every business in the state finds it difficult to find skilled workers and the problem will only grow worse. Amazon would draw many new people to move to the Twin Cities, but it would also pull in many workers from other companies, making the talent shortage more dramatic.

The only city that did better than Minnesota's sensible bid, was Little Rock, Arkansas' non-bid. After leaders discussed a potential bid to land Amazon, they decided they didn't need the headache.

The city capitalized on the decision not to bid by launching a campaign to land other reasonably sized businesses.

In announcing their decision, they ran a full-page ad in the Washington Post (owned by Amazon's CEO) written like a lover's breakup letter, which read in part:

"You’re smart, sexy, and frankly, incredibly rich... But when we started really thinking about what our future would look like, we realized it would probably never work out between us."

The ad said it would be a "bummer" if Amazon located there and marred its easy commutes and great quality of life.

It was just right. Sometimes it's best to break off a tempting relationship before it even gets started.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at or 344-6383.

Follow Tim Krohn on Twitter @TimKrohn

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