Editorial: HQ2 bids gave Amazon lots of options
The Amazon announcement Tuesday of a new nonsortable fulfillment center near Pittsburgh International Airport was well- received. It was like Allegheny County got an unexpected rose from a TV “Bachelor.”
It’s a $30 million investment. It means 800 full- time jobs will be created with $15 per hour paychecks. It increases Amazon’s 10,000-person workforce in Pennsylvania by 8%.
And it’s only costing the state $1.6 million in job creation tax credits.
Sure, it’s not the 50,000 jobs that would have come with Pittsburgh being selected as Amazon’s HQ2 last year, but it also isn’t coming with the same $556 million package of local incentives plus up to $4.5 billion in grants and $100 million in transportation improvements from the state.
The HQ2 bid submitted by the PGHQ2 partnership identified 35 development sites for Amazon, the largest retailer in the world.
Pittsburgh was passed over by Amazon in November when the company opted to split its HQ2 plans between a Washington, D.C.-adjacent area of Virginia and the Long Island City section of New York. By February, the New York portion was pulled amid political opposition.
But it seems the nationwide scavenger hunt for a second Seattle was less like an arranged marriage and more like signing up for internet dating. It gained one of the world’s largest companies — and its founder and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos — a little black book of cities and the profiles that showed just how badly they wanted Amazon in the backyard.
The Pittsburgh fulfillment center is the sixth expansion announcement made since the HQ2 decisions that included a new “Operations Center of Excellence” in Nashville.
A Mississippi fulfillment center mirrors the Allegheny County proposal. In March, a tech hub with 800 jobs was announced for Austin and in April another with 400 jobs was trumpeted in Denver. Two northern Ohio cities are getting robotic fulfillment centers with a total of 2,500 full-time jobs.
Austin was an HQ2 favorite like Pittsburgh. Denver made it to the top 20. Akron and Rossford weren’t the specific cities that submitted Ohio proposals; but the state kicked in a 10-year tax credit, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A Mississippi bid also was submitted.
More jobs are a great thing, and this deal appears to be costing much less than the HQ2 bid.
But all cities and states need to get out of the practice of paying companies to do business. It’s a great way to get left at the altar.