Raleigh Still In The Running To Shower Amazon With Corporate Welfare

Online retail giant Amazon announced Thursday that it had narrowed down the list of suitors for its HQ2 to 20 cities, all in the Midwest or East Coast.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Raleigh made the cut. Amazon thanked the hundreds that submitted proposals, in what has been a very unusual process when contrasted with the typical economic development protocols. Amazon essentially said to the nation, ‘Show me the money.’

“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Amazon evaluated each of the proposals based on the criteria outlined in the RFP to create the list of 20 HQ2 candidates that will continue in the selection process.

Those criteria had a lot to do with how much taxpayer money, in the form of credits and breaks, the local and state governments were willing to hand over. A ‘Reverse Robin Hood,‘ as Americans For Prosperity likes to call it, in which governments take from Main Street businesses and workers in order to give special tax treatments to large corporations that in turn provide ribbon-cutting opportunities for politicians.

In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals – a.k.a. squeeze more money out of them – request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.

Amazon expects to make a decision in 2018, so we’ll know just how much Raleigh could be on the hook for soon enough.

The suggested jobs and investment impact, on a gross measure, is quite large. Amazon HQ2 will be a complete headquarters for Amazon, not a satellite office.

The company plans to invest over $5 billion and grow this second headquarters to accommodate as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

That’s on a “gross” level. The net economic impact of an HQ2 in Raleigh is harder to judge because it would include all of the corporate cash giveaways that Gov. Cooper professed to hate so much while on the campaign trail. Oh, how times change.

Studies suggest that economic incentives, especially the behemoths involving billions of dollars in tax breaks, do not live up to the promised increases in economic activity on local communities. Will Amazon’s ‘tributaries’ of supporting businesses be homegrown, or will many of them also score tax incentives to locate here?

North Carolina should stand apart from the crowd for a lot of reasons, but having a bigger corporate welfare oackage shouldn’t be own of them. Our low tax, business friendly environment is girded by a skilled workforce, incredible culture, and enviable quality of life.

For Jeff Bezos, now the richest man int he world, and other Amazon executives, these attributes should be enough, but  Bezos, also the owner of the Washington Post, and a bleeding heart Liberal himself, is evidently more in favor of the cronyism that Cooper and other Big Government types are willing to facilitate.

See the full list of remaining ‘contestants’ below, in alphabetical order:

– Atlanta, GA

– Austin, TX

– Boston, MA

– Chicago, IL

– Columbus, OH

– Dallas, TX

– Denver, CO

– Indianapolis, IN

– Los Angeles, CA

– Miami, FL

– Montgomery County, MD

– Nashville, TN

– Newark, NJ

– New York City, NY

– Northern Virginia, VA

– Philadelphia, PA

– Pittsburgh, PA

– Raleigh, NC

– Toronto, ON

– Washington D.C.

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