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Local Amazon HQ Bid Shows Early Sign of Teamwork Fracture

Local Amazon HQ Bid Shows Early Sign of Teamwork Fracture

Amazon’s Seattle, Wash., headquarters. (Photograph by Adamajreynolds, Creative Commons.)

In about a month, online retail giant Amazon is expected to begin weighing thousands of proposals by cities that want to host the company’s second headquarters. Mayor James J. Fiorentini hopes the company will consider a regional plan that includes Haverhill.

Fiorentini told WHAV about the plan to bring Amazon to the area Monday, but asked the information not be released until the proposal takes final shape. The coalition of communities, which includes Lawrence and North Andover, came apart Tuesday with each community breaking from the pack and releasing separate tidbits.

Fiorentini did not name any specific locations. Questions about how sites in separate communities would be linked went unanswered at news deadline. Options include expanding bus service provided by the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority or MBTA rail service.

With Amazon’s reputation for beating down prices, a key element of any proposal is likely to be reduced local property taxes and other incentives. To lure General Electric to Boston, Boston offered $25 million in tax breaks and the state came up with $125 million in grants. Haverhill, as it has offered to Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta Company, Southwick clothing and Harbor Place, among other projects, could offer tax increment financing—temporarily trading away local property tax income.

A public policy news group, Common Dreams, yesterday pointed to the problem of giving tax breaks to giant companies while communities can’t make ends meet.

“While a number of city governments are eager to participate in the bidding war, critics are calling Amazon’s proposition a ‘race to the bottom,’ with civic leaders competing to see who can offer the multi-billion-dollar corporate giant the biggest incentives to build in their cities—at potentially high prices for taxpayers.”

Indeed, Amazon’s request for proposal specifies communities “identify incentive programs available for the Project at the state/province and local levels.”

Amazon expects to spend $5 billion on the complex and create 50,000 jobs over the next two decades. Last year, the company took in an $128 billion in sales.

Those sales are blamed, in part, for taking taxes away from Massachusetts, Haverhill City Council President Melinda E. Barrett noted last week.

Bloomberg reported yesterday some Amazon executives appear to be learning toward choosing a site in Boston because the city offers an international airport, access to workers and big-name universities such as Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is already at work on Boston’s pitch.

After 11:44am on Wednesday September 20th, 2017 this article available to WHAV members only.

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Published at Wed, 13 Sep 2017 16:03:59 +0000