(This cartoon image was found at The Contributor.)
Amazon, the mega on-line corporation, wants to build a new headquarters complex. But instead of just searching for a good location, they threw the bidding open -- and over 200 cities entered the fray (offering all kinds of benefits to the corporation -- from land to tax cuts). Those cities wanted the thousands of jobs that likely will come with the new complex.
I'm sure that Amazon considers this procedure to be good business, and the cities consider there giveaways to be worth the new jobs. But those cities overlook the fact that most of their jobs come from small businesses (who get none of the giveaways being offered to Amazon), and the fact that their citizens will have to make up what Amazon doesn't pay in taxes.
To me, this doesn't look like good business or good government. Instead, it reeks of greed and corruption. At the very least, it's corporate welfare.
Here are the 20 cities that have made Amazon's short list, along with what some have offered (offers that will probably be increased now that they made the first cut):
Atlanta: Atlanta's mayor, Kasim Reed, said the city would offer incentives and development that would be worth more than $1 billion. In Stonecrest, a Georgia city about 20 miles east of Atlanta, the mayor offered to rename it "Amazon" and instate Jeff Bezos as the permanent mayor.
Austin, Texas: Austin hasn't publicly disclosed any type of tax incentive or break for Amazon. In its bid, the city decided to tout its culture, instead. The city's mayor, Steve Adler, said it's offering Amazon a chance to be the "social fabric and future" of Austin.
Boston: The city proposed an "Amazon Task Force" in its 109-page bid. It would essentially entail paid city staffers whose sole purpose is to represent Amazon's interests to Boston's government.
Chicago: The city offered $2 billion in tax breaks, and suggested it could go even higher than that.
Columbus, Ohio: The Midwestern city offered Amazon tax breaks for 15 years, including 100 percent property tax abatement, and a 35 percent income tax refund. These offers would save Amazon millions in taxes for more than a decade.
Dallas: Similar to Austin, Dallas is also not offering any major tax break. Instead, it's pushing on its city's merits.
Denver: The city is offering "performance-based incentives," which isn't exactly a special break for Amazon. It's relying on the state's Strategic Fund Incentive and Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit, offered to any business that comes to Colorado. These incentives can save Amazon more than $100 million in taxes.
Indianapolis: It's keeping its bid details secret.
Los Angeles: The Southern California city has kept its offers under wraps, but has indicated it would provide "costs and incentives" to Amazon. There are no specific details on how much that would entail.
Miami: It's keeping its bid details secret.
Montgomery County, Maryland: Bethesda Magazine's Bethesda Beat received the bid through a public records request with the government. The state redacted all information on financial and Tax Incentives. But at least we know there are incentive offers.
Nashville, Tennessee: The Music City's officials actually frowned on all the tax incentives being offered, calling it "absurd" in one interview. Instead, they're pitching to Amazon based on the city's development and steady population growth.
Newark, New Jersey: This is the big one. Newark is offering Amazon $7 billion in tax incentives, the largest one among all 238 cities that made a bid.
New York: Other than the orange light-up show Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled off, the city is also offering lots of space, both for development and housing for potential employees moving there.
Northern Virginia: It's keeping its bid details a secret.
Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Inquirer received a heavily redacted document after it made a public records request to the city. But the pitch did offer up 280,000 square feet of office space at the 30th Street Station building, along with up to 4.2 million square feet of development space across the city.
Pittsburgh: It's keeping its bid details a secret, but noted that its tax incentives make a "very competitive package."
Raleigh, North Carolina: It's keeping its bid details a secret, and has denied 11 out of 15 public records requests from WRAL.
Toronto: Toronto is the only Canadian city listed as a finalist, and a good chunk of its pitch relies on that appeal. There are no tax subsidies in its pitch, but the city's officials point to its lower corporate tax rates compared to the US, as well as its universal health care.
Washington: The bid noted "significant tax breaks," though details were redacted in the public records provided to WAMU. The records also pitched creating an "Amazon University," which would train and create a direct pipeline of people to work at Amazon.