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Amazon Picks 20 Finalists For 'HQ2' Second Headquarters Location (nbcnews.com) 205

bigpat writes: Amazon took in hundreds of proposals and narrowed it down to twenty places for its "second" headquarters, with up to 50,000 new jobs promised in the next 15 years and millions of square feet of office and research space. The cities include: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County, Maryland, Nashville, Newark, NJ, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto and Washington D.C. Amazon said that it will now work with the candidate locations to examine their proposals more closely and request additional information to "evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate our hiring plans as well as benefit our employees and the local community." The company said it would make its decision later in 2018.
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Amazon Picks 20 Finalists For 'HQ2' Second Headquarters Location

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  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @07:49PM (#55957033)

    I don't understand why anyone would want their city to win this. Your taxes will go up to bring in Amazon, and that gets you... what?

    The way the EU has structured things, with incentives for relocation being illegal, seems far superior.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @07:50PM (#55957043) Homepage Journal

      It brings in jobs, and the workers pay taxes. At least that's the theory.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It brings in jobs, and the workers pay taxes. At least that's the theory.

        Except that it never actually happens that way. The taxes paid by those new workers don't come anywhere close to the tax revenue that the city loses. Never has, never will.

        I find it quite sad that cities won't tell Amazon to fuck off and instead are falling all over themselves to give away billions of dollars to a huge wealthy company that already has plenty of money and could easily build a new headquarters without a penny in "tax breaks".

        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          Maybe it's not just about a city getting more in tax dollars - maybe decreasing unemployment, even if many of the workers relocate to the city, you still have ancillary services they need - like restaurants, shopping, entertainment. Yes, it also increases traffic and makes a lot of other things worse - so it depends on what the city wants out of it.
        • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @09:06PM (#55957457)

          It is complicated.

          Much of the time, the revenue that the city 'loses' is revenue that otherwise wouldn't exist. A company either would pay, say 20 million in taxes under 'normal' rules, but arrange to only pay 3 million, it is said they 'gave' them 17 million dollars. However the alternative for the city was not 20 million, it was 0 (or maybe from alternative taxpayers, but for many of these places they got enough empty space that amazon does not exactly bump other more profitable companies out.

          On top of the employment and immediately indirect benefits that the politicians like to tout, it's also a rationalization to get some public works spending through. I know that at least one of those metropolitan areas has been trying for many years to build some sane transit improvements, but the citizens never have the stomach and would rather sit in traffic two hours a day than see money spent to improve it. Amazon can become the justification to spend money on those projects.

          Of course, this is all hugely unfair still and favors big businesses with leverage and is another way that economic power gets focused to a handful of leaders at a handful of companies. The consequences of capitalism exacerbated by technology that facilitates really fast information travel and logistics to make it feasible to consolidate to gigantic powerful companies that grind all competition to dust.

            It can also be greatly disappointing. There was a small town that agreed basically to let a big datacenter take of residence basically without paying any taxes whatsoever, and in very real terms went into the red building infrastructure required by the company to make the deal. It was admittedly great for the construction companies in the short term, but as soon as everything was built, they became upset because that gigantic facility under normal conditions had maybe a dozen employees. They were imagining in their heads what a textile plant of that size would hire 30 years ago and instead got to be the suckers that happen to have a big datacenter that contributes nothing to the employment or economy of the area.

          • I tried to have a similar conversation with a friend recently. He was very excited about an economic boom in his area that was all about natural resource extraction and how it was going to bring long term wealth to his area. He seemed to expect that the industry would be building constantly for decades and that those jobs weren't going to vanish at some point. And somehow the average Joe was going to be profiting off the sale of those natural resources.

        • Except that it never actually happens that way. The taxes paid by those new workers don't come anywhere close to the tax revenue that the city loses. Never has, never will.

          Sometimes the new revenue does bring in more money. Sometimes it doesn't. The "doesn't" cases get a lot more coverage since it's easy to cause outrage.

          Also, when considering new revenue you also have to add in the secondary, tertiary and beyond workers (ex. those new engineers buy food, leading to more restaurant and supermarket workers, and more truckers to supply those places, and so on).

          You also have to consider the reduced cost on policing and similar costs for some of these cities, as people who coul

      • That's the excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @08:14PM (#55957197)
        the reason is bribes, which are essentially legal here in the form of Political Action Committees, campaign donations and jobs handed out after completion of a term in office. If we were sane we'd regulate PACs, only let people donate to candidates they can vote for and even then limit the amounts and give anyone who served a significant public office a pension for life and require them to retired without owning stock.
      • Not a theory (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @08:54PM (#55957381)

        It brings in jobs, and the workers pay taxes. At least that's the theory.

        As someone who pays state income and sales taxes, I assure you it is no theory.

        Even if you give a company a lot of tax breaks there is by necessity a TON of revenue brought to a region that has any large company. It's not just the workers, but all of the support that goes into a large office - construction, office supplies, cleaning, etc.

        On top of that a few larger businesses generally attract other businesses to the region as well. It has a halo effect when a large company someplace well enough to set up a large office there,

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It depends how badly they fleecy you. There are costs to hosting a large company. Infrastructure updates to cope with traffic, or time lost to traffic if not addressed, for example.

          It's okay if the benefits outweigh the costs, but the whole point of bidding processes like this is to create a race to the bottom where politicians lose sight of that and end up with a really bad deal that pretty much pays Amazon to build an HQ there.

          • > There are costs to hosting a large company.
            > Infrastructure updates to cope with traffic, or time
            > lost to traffic if not addressed, for example.

            Those costs apply to any healthy and growing city & economy. Whether Amazon brings in 20,000 new jobs alone, or 200 startups create 100 new jobs each; that's still the same 20,000 more people using the infrastructure.So unless the preference is for your city to stagnate and wither like Detroit, I don't see the problem.

            Did you, per chance, ever visit

      • This is the same, lame argument that is used by politicians who want to build stadiums for their high-net-worth donors.

      • It does? That exceeds that about of tax breaks subsidies? In reality the ROI is non existent. It's a very poor investment. Now if Amazon covered its own bills....
    • how are taxes going to go up when it's going to increase the tax base? it's not like cities pay cash to amazon. they give them tax breaks and it's not like the taxes would have been collected without amazon

      • Some of the cities/states are offering transferable/refundable tax credits. That's a fancy way of paying cash. And those property taxes would have been gathered otherwise. The land would be worth less than when Amazon had a headquarters on it, but it would be taxed.

        Plus, some of these cities are promising serious cash outlays on infrastructure... Amazon specific infrastructure.

        • Cities are run by politicians who understand the political coin gained by attracting business and creating jobs for their voting citizens.

          Many (most) municipalities I've lived in and around have an economic development fund tied to sales tax receipts and the hotel/motel tax that salts away money to attract/convince business to relocate to their locale.

          This is typically in addition to tax breaks and credits that companies shop themselves about for.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "how are taxes going to go up when it's going to increase the tax base?"

        I've often wonder the same damn thing. When the population of an area increases, property values and incomes increase, and there's more economic activity, shouldn't economies of scale kick in and taxes go down? Nope, they never do. They go up. The only explanation I can come up with is that government has negative efficiency.
        • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

          It depends on the area. It's not as much the population of an area requiring certain things (well, they do), but the class of people.

          If you have a bunch of tech workers move into an area, they will demand certain services. Things like parks, good schools, clean streets, local nightlife, baseball stadiums, etc. are all going to be demanded by people of a certain class, in addition to the basics of infrastructure, police, fire, etc. If you create 50,000 low-paying, blue-collar the demand will be much less

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          The economies of scale are there, but cities have incentives to swallow long term maintenance costs in exchange for short term tax base infusions. [strongtowns.org]
          It doesn't help that many if not most small towns are dominated by developers, realtor groups, and their sycophants.
    • Toronto didn't offer any incentives or tax breaks. That's why the thinking is that Toronto is the favourite, unless one of the American cities ponies up enough to overcome the advantages that Toronto naturally has, e.g., it's not in Trumplandia.
      • I think that the only reason that Toronto is on the list is so Amazon can extort federal tax breaks along with the state level tax breaks everyone is offering. I'd imagine that a thinly veiled "cut our taxes some more or we're moving our HQ to Canada" threat would work pretty well with the current administration.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          IMO there are 3 real criteria here:
          * Sufficient infrastructure
          * Some place developers would like to live
          * Existing tech community

          Toronto has all 3. In fact, the only 3 candidates I find credible are Toronto, Denver, and Austin.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )

      I don't understand why anyone would want their city to win this. Your taxes will go up to bring in Amazon, and that gets you... what?

      Because... they're going to spend billions of dollars wherever they settle, and there will be thousands of jobs. And those people will be buying lunch, hiring plumbers, paying oceans of income and property taxes, and otherwise bumping up the regional economy in a huge way. To say nothing of the local contractors, vendors and other service providers who will along for the ride. I can't think of too many cities that wouldn't want that boost in their local economies and the ability it brings to attract a thou

      • You know what makes me absolutely recoil in horror? The families I know who lost their homes (and the rest of their worldly possessions) in the flooding following Hurricane Harvey. The ones whose kids' schools haven't been rebuilt yet. The ones that are still living in hotels. What horrifies me is that 90% of it didn't have to happen.

        Many saw it coming. The Army Corps of Engineers who drew up plans in the 40s for more reservoirs that were never built. Or the plan in the 90s to run a massive region-wide dr
        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          I'm afraid of this coming to my community, which was selected as "best place to live" by Money magazine. [indystar.com]

          I'm a renter, so I'm not going to make money on my house, and prices will go up fast if Amazon comes.
          The schools already can't keep up with student costs since the state government blew up the property tax base and refuses to invest in local schools.

          The local government is so in bed with developers I think we're already in trouble. Right now we have shiny new infrastructure, but I'm sure there is not
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        And it's exactly that sort of control over your town's choices and economic life that makes many people absolutely recoil at the notion of EU-style nanny statism.

        On the other hand, we don't have a race to bottom where things like environmental regulations and infrastructure costs get offloaded just to enrich some politicians.

        Yeah, we have corruption here too, we just make an effort to actually deal with it by removing powers that are frequently abused. I thought small government with less power was good???

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          And that's fine - let's each do our own thing. Global homogeneity would be terrible. The US has a different approach than the EU. Both are objectively pretty good, so it gives some freedom to pick the one you like. Half the developers I knew when I was young live in the EU now, and most of the people I work with in the US are immigrants. Seems ideal to me.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Both are objectively pretty good, so it gives some freedom to pick the one you like.

            No and no.

            Having your health damaged so that some politician can get paid is not "objectively good" in any meaningful sense, at least not for you.

            Most people don't have the freedom to pick the one they like, since they can't just emigrate if they don't like the situation in their country. In fact, the US and UK are currently trying really hard to stop people doing just that.

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              Having your health damaged so that some politician can get paid is not "objectively good" in any meaningful sense, at least not for you.

              Corruption is everywhere, but ignoring blatant health risks isn't the norm in either the US or the EU (which is why manufacture shit in China!). Not sure what your point is here.

              The US has a very high standard of living compared to the rest of the world, as do most EU nations. We're doing something right.

              Most people don't have the freedom to pick the one they like, since they can't just emigrate if they don't like the situation in their country.

              True, the US accepts far and away more people than most nations, and in any case it takes some combination of economic resources and determination to emigrate anywhere. But if everyone does things the sa

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        The way the EU has structured things, with incentives for relocation being illegal, seems far superior.

        And it's exactly that sort of control over your town's choices and economic life that makes many people absolutely recoil at the notion of EU-style nanny statism.

        And it's exactly that kind of completely wrong, knee jerk, asinine statement that makes anyone with any knowledge of how the EU works consider you a complete idiot.

        Having my council, out of my rates, barter for a corporation to set up here when they wont pay rates is completely pants on head retarded. If corporations want to set up in my borough, they can do so because we already offer something, not because they're offered my money to do it and having my council rates pushed up for the pleasure of it.

        • not because they're offered my money to do it

          And you're the one scolding other people for not understanding things?

          You have your town, with local residents and businesses paying their usual taxes. Along comes the possibility of a big new employer drawing in lots of local business activity, creating new jobs and a huge new wave of tax revenue collected from employees, property taxes, local business revenue from new employees, and the taxes on that new revenue. In order to encourage all of that into happening, the locals decide to offer to collect s

    • which are much better systems of Democracy. Our system was built from the ground up to protect the interests of the wealthy (especially land owners, but mostly because at the time being wealthy meant owning lots of land). We're not really a democracy [bbc.com]. We've got dozens and dozens of systems in place to make it so we look like one but at the end of the day the laws don't reflect popular opinion. Heck, our head of State lost the popular vote by 3 _million_.... And that's just one example. There's our Senate, b
      • All systems of government protect the interests of the wealthy, just as all government is inherently corrupt. The privilege of a modern western democracy over every other sort of government in all eras is that you really can vote in the change, if you are able to galvanize the masses in great enough numbers. Malaise is your enemy, especially when the citizens enjoy decent, fruitful lives.

        The US is a representative republic, and though the popular vote doesn't always reflect the winner in the Presidential

        • by spitzak ( 4019 )

          If the state's popular votes were 60% for candidate A and 40% for candidate B, but the electors then vote 100% for candidate A, then about 40% of them are not "voting in lockstep with the State's respective popular votes".

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          Thank you, this is true. American's need to step up and vote, but they also need to serve in offices.
          https://www.npr.org/2017/11/04/561408611/when-election-day-comes-and-theres-only-one-candidate-on-the-ballot

          I favor mandatory voting with a fine, like Australia. Election day should be a holiday and if people work they should get double-time.
    • . . . I'm a little disappointed that they are choosing a city for their new HQ.

      I would have preferred something more obscenely, conspicuously techie, like on a floating barge in the middle of the Pacific Bermuda Triangle. Or at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft, housing long term nuclear particle detection experiment.

    • Your taxes will go up to bring in Amazon, and that gets you... what?

      They may not go up as much as you think. Will have to build new schools and roads, but Amazon employees and their housing arrangements will broaden the tax base. Will also increase demand for housing, which will drive up appraised values, which further mitigates the need to raise rates. Now, you're still paying more when your appraisal goes up, but usually that reflects an increase in the actual market value. So Amazon arriving means m

    • I want Amazon to come to where I live because of the effect on property values. All of those people making 100K+/year should easily increase my home price by 20% if not more.

      I can then sell at the top of the market and move someplace cheaper where I don't need 100K/year to get by.

      • > All of those people making 100K+/year should easily increase my home price by 20% if not more.

        I live just outside of Toronto, and as the population grows the cost of housing grows, and both slowly migrate outwards from the core.

        When I retire, I'll be able to sell my house and live quite well in some semi-rural area... but my kids are going to be lucky if they get a cardboard box on the street corner anywhere within commuting distance of a real job.

    • Well, places like Chicago, a lot of people already commute in from surrounding suburbs. So, we'd be most fine.

      The HQ2 site is actually in viewing distance from my office. So are 3 of our major commuter train stations and several local trains, plenty of busses and the 290/90/94/55 expressway interchange is next door.

      I think the tax issue will be a non event for Chicagoans in the city proper either.

  • Giving this to Chicago allows the politicians to claim their reckless spending is working (it isn't), and it means that the sales taxes we pay on items purchased from Amazon go from the low "state rate" to the outrageous Chicago/Cook County rates.

    • If central location to areas served is key, Chicago is gonna win. If pleasant and pretty place, Nashville. If angering Trump, Atlanta. If kissing federal butt, DC.

    • I don't know about Chicago proper, but McDonalds just vacated their ~80 acre campus in the Oak Brook. Looks like a pretty fancy place, but who knows if it'll be fancy enough for Amazon.
  • Native Detroiter here, and I'm glad we didn't make the cut. At first I was somewhat excited that we might possibly land the second HQ (our biggest strength was being close to Canada, make of that what you will), but the more I read about what cities who try and land these mega factories or HQs have to give up in return the more I thought it was a bad idea. Not only do you have to bend over backwards in tax breaks, but the jobs created never make up for what had to be given up. It's true that Amazon is far l
  • by Tom ( 822 )

    Amazon said that it will now work with the candidate locations to examine their proposals more closely and request additional information to "evaluate

    In other words, it will pitch them against each other in a race to the bottom for tax breaks and other "incentives".

    It disgusts me so much when countries or counties think they are in a competition against each other. That mindset is what created 0.01% tax havens. There is just something the wrong way around when governments compete to please a corporation.

    • Better Amazon than a sports stadium. But I'd rather have the money spent on infrastructure and then businesses choose based on the infrastructure. That way the whole population benefits from the improved roads, transit, education, water, parks, etc. Each city will concentrate on different things.

  • Please please please keep them out of Los Angeles! We already don't have housing for the people that live here.

    • Yeah— it seems like a very odd list with more than half the locations completely unworkable. NY/Philly (3), DC (3), LA, Chicago, and even Denver seem almost impossible to work effectively. I see the logic of Dallas/Austin, and Atlanta. I think Indy would be a great city for it, as might Nashville— but my money would be on Columbus; it is the hub of their air operations.

      Or Toronto to piss off/on Trump.

      • Denver native here, and while there is *STRONG* local opposition to bringing a fucking huge tax leech into our city, what exactly makes Denver 'unworkable'? We have like the 2nd or 3rd busiest airport in the country in terms of total flights, our politics are largely inoffensive to all but the most extreme on either side (and there's always Boulder and The Springs if you need to sate them) and there are likely sites to the North, East, and South of the city proper that allow for both the highly paid talent

  • My money's on one of these: Austin, Boston, Denver, New York City, Northern Virginia, Toronto, Washington D.C.
    • Three of the "20" locations ARE Washington DC: Northern Virginia,, Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland. My money's there.
  • I was expecting to see Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, Nicosia, The Nobodyknowswheretheyare Islands ...

  • They can't really offer tax breaks, Trump would go ballistic if Amazon chose a city outside of the USA and the income taxes are higher. Health care costs would be a lot lower and corporate tax is slightly lower that doesn't make up for the lack of other breaks and the higher income tax on employees. Plus it would be pretty brave of Amazon to choose a city outside of the USA and a real slap at Trump.
    • And given the bad blood between Bezos and President Zaius, that would be perfect. I can see it happening. I'd like to see it in Miami for my own selfish reasons but T.O. is a close second.

  • Pay for it yourself Amazon! Bunch of free loading hippies, always wanting free stuff...funny how Capitalism requires Socialism (government subsidies) to work...
  • A lot of comments here seem to be missing one important angle: Recruiting.

    Your city could be quite lovely. But if nearby universities aren't pumping out the CS and IT graduates Amazon wants to hire for this HQ, and at a rate such that Amazon can get some for cheap, then that's going to put it lower on the list.

  • Prediction, Toronto wins. It is the only non-US option listed, and Jeff Bezos gets to stick it to Donald Trump.

    Trump wants Amazon to pay more taxes, pay more to use the US Mail service, accuses Amazon of being a monopoly, and has been highly critical of the Washington Post to which Bezos owns.

    Moving the Amazon HQ to Toronto not only thumbs the nose to Trump, but also sends a strong political message.

    Of course at the same time, at this scale, if Trump were to extend the olive branch and shuts the heck up abo

    • >Prediction, Toronto wins. It is the only non-US option listed, and Jeff Bezos gets to stick it to Donald Trump.

      Some of the politicians involved on our side are actually saying, "Don't hold your breath, Trump will find a way to spike this".

      Bezos is ultimately a businessman, and if Trump can make it sufficiently unattractive to go outside the USA, he's likely to give up the ego gratification of 'sticking it to Trump' and accept the best net-profit solution.

  • I'd have put Waterloo on the list, they've got a bit of a tech hub going there fed by University of Waterloo CS students, and literally down the street is Wilfred Laurier University turning out decent business grads. Cost of living for employees is significantly lower, and there's plenty of room for building as there's a lot of 'country' more or less immediately outside the already built-up areas.

    It's only an hour away from Pearson Airport (which... oddly enough, is sometimes less driving time than it take

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