Amazon's new headquarters will be split between northern Virginia and parts of Queens, New York, and will net the company billions in corporate welfare, branded as "incentives."
In New York alone, the company — among the richest in the world — will receive $1.5 billion in subsidies.
Amazon attained these stonking payouts by playing cities off against each other, luring their municipal leaders into degrading and debasing stunts designed to tempt the company. Much of this bidding took place in secret, with Amazon requiring cities to give up vital demographic, planning and economic data that it can now use to attain a competitive edge in its logistics and other business activities.
But the billions in subsidies and the strong-arm tactics are backfiring. They've provided rhetorical weapons for the likes the newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders (who has already found political glory in using Amazon as a stand-in for everything wrong with late-stage American capitalism).
New Yorkers rallied in the streets to object to the giveaway and to voice their concern that Amazon's new HQ2 will displace working families and local businesses, raising rents and creating jobs that will go to newcomers who will be able to outbid locals on rents.
It's not just the left who object, either: Koch-affiliated think-tanks publicly denounced the move as "wasteful corporate welfare" that was detrimental to the "public good."
LeRoy says Amazon has indeed inadvertently highlighted public subsidies, which corporations have been able to negotiate largely in the dark. "I think Amazon is not winning a lot of love from corporate America for that," he says. Deals between governments and other tech companies—and the secrecy surrounding them—are receiving scrutiny, too. Two nonprofits are suing San Jose, California, over a $67 million deal to sell government land to Google for new office space. The organizations argue city officials illegally signed nondisclosure agreements with the tech giant.
Why Amazon's Search for a Second Headquarters Backfired [Louise Matsakis/Wired]
New Yorkers protest Amazon HQ2: 'We should be investing in housing … not in helicopters' [Monica Nickelsburg/Geekwire]
Koch-backed groups blast carveouts to corporations after Amazon announcement [Naomi Jagoda/The Hill]
Live from New York, it's the anti-Amazon subsidy rally