'You can't give away $5 billion': Boston's mayor takes jab at cities throwing money at Amazon for HQ2

ShutterstockThe Boston Public Library.
  • Boston is one of the 20 cities still in the running for Amazon‘s HQ2 project.
  • In a recent interview, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh seemed to throw shade at the incentives being offered by local governments, like the $US8.5 billion package recently approved by Maryland lawmakers.
  • “You can’t give away 5 billion dollars,” Walsh said during an interview on a local Bloomberg Radio show. “You just can’t. I mean, that’s a lot of money.”
  • Boston officials have not yet elaborated on the incentives they will send Amazon’s way, if any.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hinted at his city’s plan to lure Amazon’s HQ2 – and it doesn’t include $US5 billion.

In an interview on Bloomberg Radio Monday, Walsh said, “No one’s really approached us on what [financial] incentives are needed, if any.”

Walsh went on to describe the city’s location, workforce, and number of colleges and universities as “incentives” for Amazon.

“You can’t give away $US5 billion. You just can’t,” Walsh said, seemingly referring to the large financial incentives being offered by local governments in the Amazon HQ2 selection process. “That’s a lot of money.”

His comments could be a hint that Boston is not planning on throwing a large pile of cash at Amazon to lure the company’s second headquarters. Instead, the incentives will likely be broader and include things that would also benefit Boston’s populace.

Part of Boston’s pitch in the first round of proposals included upgrades to public transportation and roads, which would benefit Amazon and its workers should it come to Boston, but also any Bostonian that uses the system.

“There has to be that type of incentives,” Walsh said in the Bloomberg interview. “Those incentives not only benefit the company but those infrastructure benefits also help the public citizens of our city get around.”

Boston has pointed to Suffolk Downs as the ideal site for Amazon’s HQ2, which the company says will bring 50,000 jobs and $US5 billion in investment over the next 10 years to the city that lands it.

The 20 cities across the shortlist have been scrambling to become more attractive to Amazon.

Maryland lawmakers passed the Prime Act in early April. It’s an $US8.5 billion incentives package designed to attract Amazon’s second headquarters to the state. The bill includes $US6.5 billion in local tax incentives and $US2 billion in transit improvements.

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