Jeff Bezos' Quest to Find America's Dumbest Mayor

Baker, Dean
Date Written:  2018-02-08
Publisher:  Huffington Post
Year Published:  2018
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22196

Baker questions the wisdom of cities offering online-retailer Amazon tax and infrastructure incentives to host the company's second head quarters.



With the Super Bowl now behind us, America eagerly awaits the next big event: the announcement of the winner in Jeff Bezos' contest to determine which combination of state and local governments is prepared to give him the most money to be home to Amazon's new headquarters.

Narrowed from a field of more than 200 applications, 20 finalists now wait with bated breath for the news, expected sometime later this year. But while the politicians who join Bezos for the photo op are going to be treated as big winners, it is likely that the taxpayers they represent will be big losers, dishing out more to Amazon than they will ever get back in benefits.

Bezos' "HQ2" contest is simply an extension of a game that corporations have been playing with state and local governments for the last four decades. Rather than making location decisions based on standard economic factors, like the availability of a skilled labor force, quality infrastructure, land prices and tax rates, they have persuaded governments to bid against each other with company-specific benefit packages ? usually a basket of tax concessions and sometimes even including commitments to build company-specific infrastructure like port facilities or roads.

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