From NPR:
Thursday marks the deadline for bids in Amazon’s highly publicized search for a location for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Cities are clamoring to land the conglomerate’s project and its unparalleled promise of up to 50,000 jobs paying an average of $100,000, at one of the world’s fastest-growing companies.
But with that comes some public soul-searching: How much should a city or state subsidize a wealthy American corporation in exchange for such a shiny promise? …

Corporate subsidies, by one conservative estimate, top $70 billion a year. That’s what cities and states give away in foregone taxes and other concessions to companies — sometimes for the prospect of new jobs and sometimes just to keep existing ones.
In some cases, all the competition does is get concessions from cities that the company would have picked anyway. Amazon representatives have insisted that the company didn’t begin soliciting HQ2 bids with a pre-existing choice. …
“Our concern about [the Amazon] deal is that states and cities are going to overspend for the deal so badly that they’ll never break even,” LeRoy says. “If you as a mayor think, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta break the bank for this deal’ … what money will you have left to maintain the quality of life that you have?” … 
Financial incentives are among numerous criteria Amazon included in its solicitation of bids. The public response has varied. An example on one end is Canada’s Ontario, already a region with booming tech jobs, saying it wouldn’t play the subsidy game. An extreme example on the other end is New Jersey, with its plan of up to $7 billion in tax incentives over 10 years; Amazon expects some $5 billion in capital investments.
By multiple estimates, Amazon has already cashed in on more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies and incentives for its warehouses, data centers and other operations.
Yet, there’s a widely shared understanding in economic development: Tax incentives are not what drives companies.
“I never made an investment decision based on the tax code,” Paul O’Neill, former CEO of the industrial giant Alcoa, told lawmakers in 2001, during his confirmation hearing to be U.S. Treasury secretary.
“If you’re giving money away, I’ll take it. If you want to give me inducements for something I’m going to do anyway, I’ll take it. But good business people don’t do things because of inducements.”
In fact, economic development officials in several states said they hoped Amazon wouldn’t decide based on financial incentives. So, tax breaks are more of a cherry on top.
But the competition in corporate discounts has long been part of the U.S. federalist system. Last year, President Trump even called it out in a speech, warning companies against leaving the country, but saying they “can leave from state to state and they can negotiate good deals with the different states.”
Which is why PT is predicting that the chance of Amazon coming to Vancouver, or Canada for that matter, is zero.


  1. Just as well. I read an op-ed in the G&M Report on Business just last week written by an executive who said we need to create our own Amazons; Canada is already 200,000 tech and IT jobs short because we aren’t graduating enough of them from post-secondary institutions.
    This dovetails with journalist Doug Saunders’ research and call to focus on the knowledge economy while building up our four largest urban conglomerations with efficient urbanism and transit, while increasing immigration slightly more with careful planning. These elements are the future.

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