It was all a sham.
After a year of cities and states groveling at Amazon’s feet and offering to hand over billions in public money to Jeff Bezos for HQ2, this week the official announcement came: No single city will be a “big winner.”
Instead, this was a routine corporate expansion, with Amazon opening new offices in Long Island City, New York and in Arlington, Virginia. In return, state and local governments will hand Amazon more than $4 billion in direct cash and tax giveaways.1 At the same time, Amazon’s expansion will devastate low income communities, squeeze local businesses, and cause rents to soar for families who already struggle to get by.
This isn’t over yet. State and local governments still have to approve key parts of the deal – including the huge tax giveaways. We can still fight back and save our communities and our public services from this awful deal.
Tell New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam: No secret deals or big tax cuts for Amazon!
Let’s get one thing straight right now. The wealthiest company in the world, led by the wealthiest man in the world, doesn’t need a dime from local or state government. This kind of corporate giveaway under the guise of “economic development” is unprecedented.
If Amazon wanted to open satellite offices in New York and the D.C. metro area, all it had to do was rent office space. Instead, it lured over 200 cities into a sweepstakes designed to glean as much economic data and tax giveaways as possible. And to top it all off, Amazon required every applicant to sign a nondisclosure agreement, cutting the public completely out of the process.
New York State’s economic development programs (read: corporate giveaways) are already the most expensive in the nation, making up 76% of the state’s gross tax revenue. And despite that enormous investment, it ranks dead last in returns.2
Both New York City and the Washington, D.C. metro area have huge financial needs to maintain and improve public schools, mass transit systems, health care, social services, and more. These tax giveaways come at the cost of those core public services.
Yet Amazon, along with their boosters in government, waited until after the election to make the big announcement, voters had no say in the future of their cities and states. This is unacceptable.
There is still time to stop this awful, secret deal. Tell the governors of New York and Virginia: no tax cuts for Amazon.
Amazon’s HQ2 bait-and-switch is just the latest proof of what a bad partner it is to the communities and merchants it works with. From the corner bodega to every kind of ethnic restaurant to only-in-New York stores that sell curated pencils, independent and quirky merchants are a big part of what makes New York New York.
But Amazon’s business model is anathema to all that. Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world by squeezing his merchants and suppliers, and demanding that cities hand over tax revenues in return for building warehouses and other facilities. He wants our tax dollars to help put local companies out of business.
Amazon’s expansion also comes at a huge cost to local communities and culture. In Seattle, where Amazon was founded, their massive expansion has fueled rising inequality. Amazon recruits high-wage employees, causing rents to soar and displacing working people of all backgrounds. Amazon successfully fought efforts by Seattle to tax big corporations to help address the problems their expansion created.
Make no mistake, other giant corporations have been watching and learning from Amazon. If this deal is allowed to go through, secret negotiations between governments and companies will be standard operating procedure, cutting the public out of the process entirely.
We still have time to stop the Amazon deal. Tell Governor Northam and Governor Cuomo: Stop the secret tax giveaway for Amazon!