From Tax Breaks To A 21-Foot Cactus: Why US Cities Are Wooing Amazon

Metropolises across the United States are locked in a frenzied bidding war for the e-commerce giant's second headquarters.

From Tax Breaks To A 21-Foot Cactus: Why US Cities Are Wooing Amazon
New York: It's the prize of a lifetime - a $5 billion investment creating 50,000 well-paid jobs that everyone wants, but only one US city will get.

From East to West, from North to South, metropolises across the United States are locked in a frenzied bidding war desperate to woo Amazon into favoring them as the site of the e-commerce giant's second headquarters.

From $7 billion in tax breaks in Newark, New Jersey -- 50 years ago aflame by deadly race riots -- to a giant cactus shipped inter-state, bids range from the colossally ambitious to the silly before tomorrow's deadline for submissions. The e-commerce giant announced last month that it planned to invest more than $5 billion in opening Amazon HQ2, a second company headquarters in North America that would create up to 50,000 jobs, and tens of thousands of spin-off jobs.

"We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," promised Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, America's second richest billionaire worth $85.8 billion.

The Seattle-based company's unusual announcement unleashed nationwide competitive juices as some of America's most glittering cities -- New York and Chicago vie with lesser-known backwaters looking to exit oblivion.

"Let any state go and try to beat that package," announced a typically bombastic New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on behalf of Newark's bid.

Christie, a Republican ally of US President Donald Trump, reached across the increasingly bitter US partisan divide to join forces with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and champion Newark's chances.

New Jersey dangled the prospect of $5 billion in tax incentives over 10 years, $1 billion in property tax abatement and wage tax waivers that would allow Amazon employees to keep around $1 billion of their hard earned money over 20 years.

As part of New York's metropolitan area, Newark fulfils Amazon's preference for places with more than one million people, a business-friendly environment and urban or suburban locations able to attract and retain strong technical talent.

But that wishlist hasn't stopped lesser contenders resorting to gimmicks in a bid to win attention and perhaps circumvent the stipulations from Amazon.

Atlanta suburb Stonecrest, Georgia has offered to surrender 345 acres to create a new city called -- wait for it -- Amazon.

"They have an eternal brand if they create and live in Amazon," Mayor Jason Lary told Fox Business. "Their own zipcode."

Birmingham, Alabama erected giant replicas of Amazon's distinctive grey shipping boxes downtown, a business group in Tucson, Arizona, uprooted a 21-foot (6.5-meter) cactus and shipped it to Amazon's Seattle head office.

"Unfortunately, we can't accept gifts (even really cool ones)," tweeted the retailer in response, saying they had donated it to the Desert Museum.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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