- Amazon has become one of the most powerful companies in the world. Last month, it became the world’s second most valuable company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world, with a net worth of around $112 billion.
- In the fall of 2017, Amazon announced it would accept proposals from cities hoping to land its second North American headquarters (dubbed “HQ2”). They have promised to bring up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment to the winning city.
What's the deal?
Cities across North America have scrambled to prove they meet the HQ2 criteria and have offered massive tax breaks to Amazon. Philly is one of 20 places that made it to the second round of bidding.
- 1 out of 3 pages from the city’s first-round bid have been kept from the public and Amazon has asked that all round two bids be kept secret.
- We don't know the specific details of what kinds of tax breaks the city has offered to Amazon.
We do know that the City and the State have reportedly proposed giving Amazon up to $3 billion in tax breaks.
What's at stake?
- The City and the State have proposed giving Amazon up to $3 billion in tax breaks. That means resources diverted from our schools, infrastructure, and other public goods and services.
- We can look at Seattle--where rents have gone up 65% since 2009--for some insight into HQ2's impact on Philly. HQ2 could cause rents in Philly to skyrocket.
An influx of 50,000 new residents and 8 million square feet of headquarters could strain our city's existing infrastructure--everything from schools and transit to trash-hauling and sewer services. Current residents could be left footing the bill for infrastructure upgrades that only benefit Amazon.
HQ2 should generate opportunity and benefits for people who currently live and work in Philly.
If HQ2 comes to Philly, both Amazon and the City of Philadelphia should take meaningful steps towards the vision laid out in the "Our HQ2 Wishlist" and ensure that any HQ2 deal includes:
Safe, family-sustaining jobs for all Amazon workers (including warehouse workers, service workers on the HQ2 campus, and programmers/administrators)
A commitment from Amazon to pay its fair share of taxes to support our schools, public transportation, and social services
Protections against displacement and investment in affordable housing
Transparency around and opportunities for significant public engagement in the HQ2 process
Further reading & Resources
How Amazon’s Tightening Grip on the Economy is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities Institute for Local Self Reliance, Nov. 2016
Amazon Inc. Paid Zero in Federal Taxes in 2017, Gets $789 Million Windfall from New Tax Law Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Feb. 2018
“Not welcome here”: Amazon faces growing resistance to its second home The Guardian, March 2018
Amazon’s Racial Inequality Prime Action Center on Race and the Economy, Feb. 2018