Hey Louisville – look what you missed out on, by losing the Amazon bid

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It was always a long shot, but Louisville city leaders gave it the old college try. They put together a package to land the second Amazon headquarters, but didn’t make the finals.

As it turns out, perhaps that is actually a good thing. Maybe a VERY good thing.

Writing in Business Insider, Hayley Peterson notes hosting the current Amazon HQ has been a definite mixed bag for Seattle. While it’s true that Amazon brought thousands of high-paying jobs to the area … it also brought thousands of high-paying jobs to the area.

And as any systems thinker will tell you, significantly changing one part of a system will cause changes in another part of the system, often unintended.

The unintended consequences

What, then, are the negatives that Seattle has seen, and that would almost certainly also show up in whatever city hosts HQ2?

  • Astonomical hikes in home purchase costs. A median 4-bedroom home in Seattle is now $847,000, up from $510,000 just five years ago.
  • Dramatic rise in rental prices as well. High demand and low inventory will do that to you.
  • Leading to large increases in homelessness.
  • And displacement of minority communities to the cheaper suburbs.
  • Which then puts more strain on the transportation systems, both automobile and mass transit.
  • Thus increasing traffic and gridlock, making Seattle one of the ten worst cities in the country for traffic delays.

Getting 50,000 jobs dumped into your city sounds really good … until you consider what the long-term costs of those jobs do to your bottom line.

 

And then there’s the tax breaks

Cities are trying to woo Amazon to pick them by offering all sorts of tax incentives / tax breaks / tax giveaways. How big are the tax breaks? Since all of the packages, including Louisville’s, are secret, no one knows. But Amazon surely will drive a hard bargain.

Note that those tax breaks would be going to a company that reported $5,600,000,000 in PROFIT in 2017 — yet paid $0 in federal income taxes.

And that’s not counting the $789,000,000 one-time tax break the company got as part of the Trump-Republican tax scam.

Finally, as one Seattle journalist commented,

“Whatever town that takes them on will have to give them more and more to keep them happy. The chess move isn’t just, ‘let’s get Amazon.’ You have to think further down the road. What is Amazon going to want 10 years from now?”

Perhaps 50 companies with 1,000 jobs each would be a better idea.

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Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. He has been President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club, and has served on the Democratic Party Executive Committee in Louisville. He began blogging in 2004, and currently operates two personal blogs (BruceMaples.com and brucewriter.com). He founded Forward Kentucky in the wake of the state elections in 2015, and expanded it in the summer of 2016. He has lived in Louisville since 1992 with his wife and two sons.