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Governor On Amazon Comment: 'I Was Making A Joke'

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - A week after Denver was named one of the 20 finalists for Amazon's new headquarters -- HQ2 -- Gov. John Hickenlooper tried to clarify remarks he made that suggest he doesn't want the company here.

(credit: Amazon)

The Denver Post reported that the governor made the comments to the City Club of Denver on Tuesday.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

"There will be a sense of relief if they choose somewhere else, because there are a lot of challenges and lot of hard work we will be avoiding."

Hickenlooper now says he was joking.

"I was just making a joke at the beginning of that. I was talking about how we worked so hard on this and sometimes once you win the real work begins," he said.

Amazon fulfillment Center
(credit: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

The governor says he is the one who wrote the proposal for Amazon.

"I was up to one o'clock in morning writing. I went over every word of that proposal," he said.

But, he says, he isn't joking about the work. Denver is already struggling to keep up with growth.

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(credit: CBS)

The median sale price of a single family home here has shot up 65 percent in the last five years to $420,000, and the city is spending more than $400 million for nearly 300 transportation projects over the next decade.

Amazon would mean more than 50,000 additional people here.

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(credit: CBS)

The governor says other cities in the running face similar growth problems and Amazon, he says, gets it.

"It's a ton of work and Amazon clearly is the kind of company that's based on innovation and as we face the challenges of growth, which we are, they'd be great partner for us," he said.

In fact, the governor insists Amazon's CEO will appreciate his honesty. "If I was Jeff Bezos I'd look at those comments and say that's just the kind of city we're looking for."

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CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews J.J. Ament. (credit: CBS)

J.J. Ament -- among those leading the Denver bid -- agrees.

"I think people appreciate our Western sense of candid and honest engagement. We think Amazon is looking for community that will help them grow and be successful and no doubt when we're talking about adding good jobs to Colorado there's a lot work that comes with that and we're prepared to do work," said Ament.

The chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Jeff Hayes, has a different take, saying the governor is undermining Colorado's chances of landing Amazon's headquarters.

The company says it will make its decision sometime this year.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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