Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

Real estate is all about location, and as one of the biggest tech giants in the world searches for the site of its second headquarters, cities all across North America are bending over backwards to secure a partnership with Amazon HQ2.

Amazon HQ2 will be Amazon’s second North American headquarters, coming with a whopping $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs, according to its website. The site will mimic the headquarters in Seattle, where Amazon estimates that its investments there from 2010 to 2016 added $38 billion to the city’s economy.

But this time, Amazon has decided to test its desirability by choosing the new campus location through a public process. Local governments have made their appeals to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, highlighting all their area has to offer, such as tax breaks and talented professionals, in exchange for the promises of economic growth Amazon says it will deliver. Amazon has narrowed down the bids for HQ2 to the top 20 locations, ranging from Los Angeles to Denver to Boston.

McKenna Middleton | Opinion Editor

Although the idea of thousands of jobs can be tempting, it’s important to consider how these communities will be negatively affected by the presence of Amazon in their community.

“It’s important to us to invest in the communities where we operate in ways that benefit our neighbors and our employees,” Amazon claims on its website. “We want to find a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit.”

That all sounds well and good, but some of these proposals go against this ideal, suggesting that local governments making the bids care more about the economic benefits of Amazon than the possible gentrification that could affect its current citizens.

These proposals go beyond making a bid that benefits the cities’ inhabitants; they make a direct appeal to Amazon through incentives that could devastate local communities already in place.

Massachusetts’ proposal totaled 182 pages. San Francisco’s bid amounts to about 160 pages. Denver offers more modest benefits, including job growth, tax credits, job training grants and in-state tuition for employees. By comparison, its $100 million incentives package, laid out on 23 pages, looks like pocket change. Newark’s pitch, backed by Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders, offers tax breaks worth $7 billion over the next 10 years. Chicago’s bid includes a heart-sinking bargain: workers would pay taxes as usual, but then the city would “let Amazon keep $1.32 billion of the personal income taxes paid by its workers annually,” rather than using that money to improve infrastructure, according to Business Insider.

These bids, in all their tax-break glory, trade stable infrastructure and organic growth for booming business that will undoubtedly negatively affect the culture of the area as well as negatively impact the lives of those in low-income areas that may be displaced as a result of rising prices and facility construction.

To combat this, the Boston Globe suggests Amazon help improve public transportation, address the housing shortage and invest in local public schools. We suggest a different strategy: Citizens from these areas should demand that their legislative leaders retract their bid for Amazon HQ2. After all, it is the citizens already in these locations that will be affected by the gentrification and increased population in their area, yet they have not been asked to be involved in the process.

If you call one of the top 20 Amazon HQ2 candidate cities home, read your city’s proposal to Bezos. See exactly how your home will be impacted by the presence of Amazon HQ2. Fight to preserve your town’s heritage and local population. Write a letter or call your local legislators, expressing your concerns with the proposal. More than anything, remember that you deserve a say in what happens in your own backyard.