Did Amazon just make up a neighborhood for its new headquarters?

Thursday, 15 Nov, 2018

If the city and state can get Amazon to pay for improvements to infrastructure, schools and job training-all of which economists say are far better ways of helping the economy than offering multinational corporations tax benefits-the deal could work out well for NY.

Kim appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss legislation he's introducing to block the deal and offer his own thoughts on other necessities New York City could spend almost $1.3 billion on rather than tax incentives for Amazon to build its eight million square foot campus.

But some critics think the decision to go with two headquarters was a "bait and switch" that allowed Amazon to pit competing cities against each other. The New York City headquarters will be located in Long Island City, Queens.

Although it wouldn't qualify as a "headquarters", Nashville won 5,000 jobs, with Tennessee kicking in $102 million in tax incentives including a job subsidy worth $13,000 per head.

The Journal and other news organizations reported that Amazon planned to divide HQ2 between two places, including the jobs and investment that come with it.

The mayor also claimed NY "drove a hard bargain" to get what he estimates will be anywhere between 25,000 and 40,000 permanent jobs.

NY and Arlington both stand to gain 25,000 jobs each with wages averaging more than $US150,000. In Nashville, it's $102 million for 5,000 jobs. The region offered Amazon $573 million in performance-based direct incentives.

What do the cities themselves get for all that effort?

Well, the jobs, for one thing. "I don't know how they calculated it, and what they actually calculated", Cuomo said.

- More than 25,000 full-time jobs with average wage exceeding $150,000. That's a significant influx of economic capital, and with it comes "all sorts of ripple effects beyond employing coders, sales executives, baristas, nannies and yoga instructors", according to Michael Kimmelman, writing for the Times.

Recruiting will begin in the New Year, Amazon said.

Though the details vary in each deal, in all three cities, Amazon is planning to invest heavily in expansive, energy efficient office space. The cash will go towards "streets, sidewalks, utility relocations, environmental remediation, public open space, transportation, schools and signage" within a yet-to-be-determined area in Long Island City, per the state memorandum.

If the city, DISD and local college and universities were prepared to make a sizable investment to create a mechanism for providing the kind of engineers required by Amazon, they should be prepared to follow through with that investment regardless of the decision by Jeff Bezos. For example, Amazon's Anable Basin site is just a mile from the census tract containing Queensbridge Houses, the nation's largest public housing complex, where the median household income is $14,000 and the poverty rate is almost 50 percent. When a city adds jobs but doesn't collect all the taxes due, either the level of service must fall or other taxpayers must make up the difference.

Housing costs in Arlington County are already high as the average income for the county is $110,000.

Are these the cities that would have benefitted most?

The new sites in NY and Northern Virginia will add to Amazon's existing headquarters in Seattle, which consists of 8.1m sq ft over 33 buildings, with 24 restaurants and 40,000 employees.

There are signs that Amazon may have been concerned about a similar reaction.

LCOR, the developer of Crystal City's Altaire, two rental towers with penthouses that rent for more than US$12,000 a month, also just got lucky.

The same trend, critics note, has always been evident in such high-tech centers as San Francisco, San Jose, California, and Seattle, where Amazon is based.

In the aftermath of Amazon's announcement, however, Georgia's Amazon bid stands out for sheer breadth.