Amazon HQ2 search: Could political storm clouds over Ga. improve the economic forecast elsewhere?

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ATLANTA — Amazon is about to make a surprise delivery to one of 20 cities, and, until recently, Atlanta was considered prime for the company’s second headquarters.

But then came Delta and the NRA.

After the Atlanta-based airline canceled its agreement giving NRA members discounts, Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle and the Georgia General Assembly canceled millions in planned tax breaks for Delta. Some called it retribution against one of Georgia’s largest employers for what Cagle categorized as an an attack on conservative values.

RELATED | Gay-rights advocates urging Amazon to reject Georgia for second global HQ

So could the public spat give Amazon second thoughts about about Atlanta? 11Alive’s chief investigator Brendan Keefe visited Denver, another finalist city, that believes Georgia’s loss could be Colorado’s gain.

Floyd Ciruli is a veteran Colorado pollster and said the political storm clouds over Georgia could improve the economic forecast for places like Denver.

“It is definitely a factor,” Ciruli said. “I always had this image of Atlanta of being a very progressive city, and suddenly this interaction with the NRA, it both surprised me, particularly taking on a major corporation like that, but it also suggested that the political culture there is so rigid, so committed to its position, that it’s willing to take on an incredible economic asset like that, and also send a potential signal in terms of its competitive position with Amazon.”

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Ciruli said corporate leadership is “incredibly sensitive to these boycotts” and their employees’, customers’ and shareholders’ cultural attitudes.

“You get out on the edge of these issues – like guns, or gay rights, or race – you will get a backlash,” Ciruli said. “And I think that’s what Georgia is dealing with right now is a backlash.”

Amazon is generally viewed as a progressive company, and its founder personally owns the Washington Post. So, imagine Jeff Bezos seeing this headline in his own paper – at the same time his company is considering Atlanta as its second home.

MORE | Flyers, graffiti in Atlanta protest Amazon and HQ2

“He is probably more alert and more attentive than 95 percent of the corporate leadership of this country, and his editorial decisions are dramatically out of sync with the Georgia state legislature right now,” Ciruli said.

The economy could take off in any of the 20 cities that lands Amazon’s second headquarters and as many as 50,000 jobs. All that’s left is the the final decision – could it be a Rocky Mountain high or getting smoked by Georgia politicians?

Watch the investigation by 11Alive Investigator Brendan Keefe tonight on #TheLateFeed.

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