Cities push back against Amazon HQ
Cities are fighting back against the new Amazon HQ. The online behemoth and its $130bn man (Jeff Bezos) thought it was a good idea to put the company’s planned second US ‘headquarters’ (HQ2) up for auction, with cities bidding billions of dollars for the dubious privilege of hosting the company. Why dubious? Amazon is a classic corporate free-rider, thinking nothing of paying nothing at all in taxes.
Just two months ago, Amazon proudly announced a shortlist of 20 cities that it was willing to consider as possible contender locations in its corporate beauty contest.
However, now there’s HQ2 pushback.
Atlanta has AtlantaAgainstAmazon.com, a grouping which tags the company as ‘Wal-Mart on steroids’. It argues that ‘the more successful Amazon is, the more we will see farmer’s markets, neighbourhood hardware stores, and clothing boutiques boarded up.’
And as for claims that an HQ2 will create tens of thousands of local jobs, AtlantaAgainstAmazon believes the best-paid, highly skilled jobs will go to people who will be jetted in from elsewhere in the US, while the fate of those getting poorly paid work will be to join a large contracted labour force with little in the way of rights.
And this isn’t just another Lefty anti-capitalist protest, either.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin metro areas, grassroots outfit Generation Opportunity – an activist group backed by the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers – has rolled out an online advertising campaign comparing the HQ2 challenge to the Hunger Games. Generation Opportunity's big beef here is that municipal handouts are being offered to already rich corporations, while big projects like this often don’t benefit cities that much, especially on the employment side where overpromising is the norm.
Generation Opportunity – largely comprising 18- to 34-year-olds – says it will even work with Democrats to prevent Amazon from getting its hands on subsidies.
There’s also on online petition, launched by urbanists, urban economists, policymakers, and city experts, calling on the elected officials and community leaders of Amazon HQ2 finalist metros to ‘sign a mutual non-aggression pact that rejects such egregious tax giveaways and direct monetary incentives for the Amazon headquarters’.
Are you listening, Alexa?