The New Yorker: The New York Hustle of Amazon’s Second Headquarters

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The city of hustlers got hustled. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, is wealthy enough to write a ten-thousand-dollar check to every apartment nabber, Wall Street shouter, what-time-is-it-showtime subway dancer, part-time-student pension chaser, asylum-seeking stage actor, author-cum-barista, wrong-way delivery guy, business-call-conducting taxi driver—to each of the more than eight million people currently living in New York City. This week, though, when Bezos bestowed upon the city the dubious honor of becoming Amazon’s second “headquarters”—an honor it shares with two other cities, including its existing headquarters, in Seattle—it was New Yorkers who paid him. The city and state offered Amazon at least 1.5 billion dollars in tax breaks and other grants to settle in a place that has not, historically, struggled to attract newcomers. (“I really think this could be the thing that finally puts New York on the map,” James Corden joked.) When combined with existing incentives, Amazon might receive three billion

Throughout a bidding process that saw dozens of cities vie to be the next location of a proposed hydra-headquarters, there were murmurs that Amazon might really just be looking for a regular office, and rebranding it a “headquarters” to corner those tax breaks. Those suspicions seemed validated when Amazon announced this week that its second headquarters would actually be two additional headquarters, one in Queens and one in Northern Virginia. (The company also announced plans to build a new Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville, which would employ five thousand people.)

In New York, the 1.2-billion-dollar tax break is based on Amazon’s commitment to generate twenty-five-thousand jobs, at an average annual salary of more than a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which would net the company a forty-eight-thousand-dollar tax credit per job created. As part of a scheme called pilot, which stands for Payment In Lieu Of Tax, Amazon has also committed to fund community infrastructure and to donate space “for a tech startup incubator and for use by artists and industrial businesses” as well as for a newly built public school. “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor, said during the bidding process. After the announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a progressive Democrat whom one might expect to have gripes with Amazon’s brand of peeing-in-a-bottle capitalism, declared Amazon’s move “a giant step on our path to building an economy in New York City that leaves no one behind.”

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