While in public office, I opposed local government giveaways that enticed corporations to move to their communities. The promise of jobs and payrolls taxes seldom matched expectations. One company decided to build in Portland after receiving huge incentives. What the locals got in exchange was a few janitorial openings. Executives and middle management workers came from outside the state. I’m glad I opposed the deal, but my being right was little compensation to the homeless and medically indigent who sacrificed services to provide the incentives.
Today, Amazon is looking to extend its operations outside Seattle. Local governments are turning themselves inside out to attract the attention of owner, Jeff Bezos. Chula Vista, California is offering Amazon $100,000 in free land with a 30 year exemption on taxes. Chicago promises to return half of the $1.3 billion income tax it expects to collect back to the company. If he accepts, Bezos will grow richer thanks to his employees’ taxes.
Fresno, California offers a different lollipop. They promised to put 85% of the new taxes into a special fund to be managed by Amazon executives. Not sure what that does for the public good, but it leaves local decisions to a corporation.
Boston has the best idea when it comes to giving Amazon cake and allowing the company to eat it , too. The city proposes to create a department within its structure dedicated to representing Amazon’s interest. What more could Amazon want except to be Boston? (“Raising a white flag to Amazon, by Danny Westneat, reprinted in The Week, December 8, 2018, pg. 34.)