fb-pixel

Mass. gives Amazon $3m in tax breaks

An Amazon fulfillment center in Wales.
An Amazon fulfillment center in Wales.Getty Images

The state’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council voted Tuesday to give Amazon.com Inc. $3.25 million in state tax breaks, cementing the company’s plans to build a 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Fall River and Freetown.

“This is a big deal,” said Jay Ash, the state’s Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, who negotiated the deal with Amazon. “To have an internationally recognized company making a substantial commitment to a gateway city like Fall River, that’s a good way to kick-start economic development.”

In return for the tax breaks, Amazon has promised to create 500 permanent jobs that will last a minimum of five years, in addition to as many as 2,000 seasonal and part-time jobs. Of the $3.25 million, $1 million is a job creation credit, which the company is allowed to sell for cash. The remaining $2.25 million is a so-called “enhanced expansion project” credit.

Advertisement



The economic council also approved $11.6 million worth of local tax breaks Amazon previously negotiated with Fall River and Freetown.

Ash batted away criticism that the state was giving a handout to a large, successful company, arguing that the Fall River area badly needed such blue-collar jobs and that Massachusetts needed to offer such incentives to compensate for a relatively unfriendly business environment.

“We face an uneven playing field because of the high cost of energy and the general cost of doing business in Massachusetts,” he said. “So we’re using tax credits, we think wisely, to level the playing field on projects that have great returns on investment.”

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Governor Charlie Baker praised the deal. “This project will not only create new jobs for the residents of Bristol County but will also provide a much-needed economic boost to one of our gateway cities,” Baker said. “By supporting companies that are looking to expand in the Commonwealth, we are setting the stage for a competitive and stable economic environment here in Massachusetts.”

On Monday, a spokesman for the council declined to release details of the Amazon tax breaks in advance of Tuesday morning’s vote. Under the state’s weak open meeting law, the economic council is not required to make public the tax deals it is considering until after it has given them final approval, a fact that has riled transparency advocates.

Advertisement



The fulfillment center is expected to open in summer or fall 2016.


Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielAdams86.