Amazon, which chose to split its new headquarters between New York City and Arlington, Virginia, this week, had previously spent over a year teasing smaller cities and counties, who scrambled to offer Amazon incentives in return for the company's headquarters being built in the area.
Amazon has set its sights on two of the nation's largest and most powerful metro areas, announcing Tuesday it had chosen a buzzy NY neighborhood and a suburb of Washington for its new East Coast headquarters.
Some consolation prizes were doled out amid the backlash, with Amazon announcing it would make Nashville, Tenn., a new Center For Excellence for its operations business, which is responsible for the company's customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain and other activities.
Arlington county is also promising to give Amazon a share of its hotel tax, which it said would add up to $23 million over 15 years if Amazon meets its predicted job-creation targets.
That includes a refundable tax credit worth $US48,000 per job for 25,000 jobs with an average wage of over $US150,000. In Virginia, the company could receive up to $550 million in cash incentives from the state.
The city in recent years has used its highly educated workforce to fuel a roaring economy and was widely considered a top contender for Amazon's so-called HQ2. Amazon won't get paid until after the jobs are created.
Curtis, a longtime fixture in Austin's political and economic development circles, says he'd hoped Amazon would add 5,000 to 10,000 HQ2 jobs in Austin.
The state office of economic development said they never sent a formal offer to the tech giant. "The more jobs you create, the more incentives you get", said Joseph Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.
What about them? Is this all they get? In offering incentives to Amazon, he said, NY and Virginia are effectively subsidizing a big, incumbent company at the expense of local businesses and start-ups.
Amazon has always been a master of extracting tax incentives by playing local governments off one another as they vie for fulfillment centers, offices, and other sources of jobs.
Parilla described the conundrum facing cities wooing big companies as a "prisoner's dilemma".
"If they see there's a crunch for talent, they're going to have to be more competitive and obviously the easiest way to be more competitive is to pay people more", she said.
When Amazon first announced that it was looking for new sites, it received more than 200 proposals from cities across North America that were vying to be a home base in addition to the company's Seattle headquarters. You say they're regular bats, but what if they're not?
Amazon is known for its negotiating prowess. Since Amazon's arrival, Seattle has become one of the nation's most expensive places, forcing lower-income residents to move to far-off suburbs. In Virginia, Democratic Senator Mark Warner told a conference on Tuesday: "This process is probably the most unique economic development".
They also offered infrastructure, labor and data to the world's largest online retailer.
Amazon is planning for more than 25,000 full-time jobs as a result of their new 4 million square foot office planned for the city, there is also room for another 4 million square feet of expansion as part of the project. He defended his administration's big incentive package to Amazon, which he said would create a 9 to 1 return on investment, as necessary for beating the "54 states" vying for HQ2. Both are waterfront communities away from overcrowded business districts, giving Amazon space to grow. The contest did succeed in getting cities to compete one upping each other on tax breaks and perks. However, many of its 1980s-era office buildings have vacancies after thousands of federal employees moved elsewhere.
Savannah is one of several developers that have plowed money into the area, including Rockrose, TF Cornerstone, Tishman Speyer and the Related Companies, among others.