Amazon has announced that its second US headquarters will be split between two cities, with smaller-than-expected offices in the New York City borough of Queens and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. The announcement caps a year of deliberations that saw over 200 frenzied proposals offering billions in incentives to the e-commerce giant. Amazon had promised 50,000 jobs and $5 billion of capital spending for the so-called HQ2, which will now be split equally between the two chosen locations.
The choice of the Long Island City, Queens neighborhood and the Washington, DC suburb has some calling the so-called contest a con job since Amazon already employs more people in those two areas than anywhere outside of its Seattle HQ and the Bay Area. In other words, the ruse of uprooting operations probably helped Amazon extract more favorable tax subsidies and incentives from local governments. News of the possibility that Amazon would choose multiple locations was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in early November.
A ruse that helped Amazon achieve better tax breaks?
Alongside the news of its new headquarters, Amazon also announced that Nashville will play host to its new East Coast operations hub, which will be responsible for customer fulfillment and transportation, among other activities. This office will provide jobs for 5,000 workers in the city.
Amazon started moving into its current Seattle headquarters in 2010, but it announced in September 2017 that it was seeking a location to base its second North American headquarters. At the beginning of this year, it announced the 20 finalists, which included cities from across the US and Canada.
The cities have been fighting hard for Amazon’s investment with tactics including 21-foot cacti, free sandwiches, and 1,000 five-star Amazon reviews from a single Missouri mayor. Although often humorous, these tactics and the enthusiasm that underlies them have led to criticism that the cities were selling out. Seattle faced criticism back in 2007 for creating exceptions to city code to get Amazon’s original headquarters located in the city.