Inside the deal that lured Amazon to Chattanooga

When Amazon.com representatives first landed in Chattanooga in September to talk about a possible fulfillment center here, city officials thought they were competing against neighboring Bradley County for the facility.

"Both communities had sites in play," said Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president for economic development.

Only later did Amazon disclose it was looking at building two noncompeting 1 million-square-foot distribution centers -- one each in Hamilton and Bradley counties -- and another similar-sized center in South Carolina.

"What was interesting is that both Cleveland and Chattanooga stayed in the hunt," Hamilton said.

Seven months after Amazon's site selection firm first received proposals for a then-unnamed prospect, Amazon last week finalized both centers in Southeast Tennessee. Amazon.com also is planning a third new distribution center for the Southeast in Lexington County, S.C.