More than 50 cities across North America say they will submit bids to house Amazon’s next headquarters.
In early September, the e-commerce giant announced that it will build a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, in an undetermined location. In one of the largest civic-corporate opportunities in recent history, Amazon has also promised it will bring 50,000 jobs.
Several cities have tried to woo Amazon, and some attempts have been wilder than others. Tucson business leaders, for example, tried to mail Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a 21-foot cactus. (The company politely declined and donated it to a museum.) And the mayor of Frisco, Texas has offered to build much of his city around Amazon.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has another kind of proposition to lure the company to his state: lots and lots of money.
Christie and legislative leaders say they will offer tax breaks worth $US5 billion over the next decade to Amazon if it decides to build there, according to The Observer. The plan would expand a subsidy program, Grow NJ, and provide extensive economic incentives for companies (like Amazon) that launch “transformative projects” (like HQ2).
The proposed bill would raise the cap on subsidies from $US5,000 to $US10,000 for every job Amazon creates. Christie said on Friday that he expects lawmakers to sign the bill into law by mid-January. The Legislature’s top Democrats and Republicans have both expressed support for the move.
When Amazon has come to other cities across the United States, it has often accepted economic incentives similar to what Christie is proposing.
From 2005 to 2014, the company received at least $US613 million in local government subsidies to build warehouses, according to a 2016 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The group, which pushes for local resources to be dedicated to for community development, also found Amazon received an additional $US147 million in subsidies for its data centres.
Amazon will likely choose a city that offers substantial tax breaks. Its proposal guidelines say that the company may require “special incentive legislation” in order “for the state/province to achieve a competitive incentive proposal.”
In City Observatory, economist Joe Cortwright argues that Amazon may already have its own ranking of wish list cities.
“Amazon — who after all, makes its business knowing the decision preferences of tens or hundreds of millions of customers — is hardly likely to rely on cities for the information to make its decision,” he wrote. “The whole point of this exercise is to improve the company’s bargaining position for the location it wants.”
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