Back in September 2017, Amazon ‘kicked off a continent-wide competition by announcing a search for a second headquarters’. It’s now 14 months later and Amazon have a winner, well actually 2 winners. They have announced that they will build two new complexes, one in Washington DC close to the Pentagon and one in New York City. There were 238 bids in total for the building of the Amazon campus, officials were clearly excited by the prospect of bringing an Amazon office to their area with the potential of creating 50,000 jobs in the next 20 years.
Officials from Toronto, Texas, Maryland and Chicago were among the 236 failed bids trying to secure Amazon’s new build. Amazon will spend around $2.5bn on each office space, giving an enormous expenditure total of $5bn. However, Amazon is set to receive tax benefits and other incentives worth over $2bn.
When deciding which location(s) to build in, Amazon had a few requirements; it had to be a large urban area, be close to a large airport and have easy access to mass transit. Amazon’s decision to build two offices instead of one was because they believe it will attract a higher percentage of top talent.
There were mixed reactions to the announcement that Amazon would be building new HQ’s in New York and Washington DC, some were full of congratulations and optimism for the future, such as Mark Warner who wrote ‘I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth’ on Twitter.
However, a large population of people were disheartened by the large tax breaks that Amazon will receive, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex wrote, ‘the idea that it (Amazon) will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here’.
Talking of tax incentives, Amazon is set to receive over $500m from Virginia and $1.7bn from New York, dependent on Amazon’s promise to deliver jobs, etc. However, even the New York State Senator Michael Gianaris said ‘the decision to offer tax incentives was a huge mistake, given the needs of the city’s school and subway system’. Senator Gianaris was clearly in agreement with Ms Ocasio-Cortex, as he called it “a horrible decision (to give tax incentives to Amazon) and a great statement of misplaced priorities”.
Apparently, Amazon had other offers, better offers, from different areas of the United States but Amazon said that it prioritised the ability to recruit a workforce of highly educated personnel over additional subsidies.
For the population of New York City and Washington DC, it will be exciting to see what kind of architectural monstrosity Amazon will come up with, but mainly excited about the various number of work opportunities Amazon will bring to the local communities. However, with the public outrage surrounding the tax breaks given to Amazon, is it just another case of the rich getting richer?