The Amazon Opportunity to Revitalize Urban Communities

If corporations continue to be able to take public subsidy as the price of locating in an area, maybe the debate isn't whether to offer subsidies but simply how and for what to offer them. Here’s one incentive that might actually benefit communities.

1 minute read

April 17, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By Keli_NHI

Amazon Fulfillment Center

By Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

About 20 cities nationwide remain under consideration as the site for what Amazon has billed as the search for its second headquarters.

Philadelphia, one of the finalists, has offered the online retailer a package of tax breaks and other benefits totaling in excess of $1 billion dollars. New Jersey (for a Newark-area site) has offered subsidies several times that amount. These offers are not dissimilar to those made by more than a dozen other jurisdictions, indicating just how willing political leadership is in these communities to compete for Amazon’s presence.

However, support for these subsidies has not been without criticism. Some are opposed to the idea of giving up funds for badly needed public resources to one of the world’s richest companies, and some economists have questioned the economic efficiency of corporate tax breaks altogether, and proposed alternatives that would better strengthen communitiesand local economies.

Nevertheless, if corporations continue to extract public subsidies as the price for locating in a community, perhaps the debate is not whether to offer subsidies but rather to reconsider how and for what specific purpose such subsidies are to be provided.

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