Congratulations, Jeff Bezos, you picked Arlington, Va. and Long Island City, N.Y., as your vaunted new Amazon headquarters. What — the views of the oil tanks from Suffolk Downs were too exciting for you?
The cities of Boston and Somerville have no reason to feel bad. Quite the contrary. The region is already home to thousands of Amazon employees, and the ecommerce giant is planning to expand even without a second corporate campus here. And just the process of bidding has made Boston do some soul searching about its transportation and housing needs.
Still, we can’t help but wonder if Bezos seriously considered Boston’s bid at all, one of 17 metro areas across North America named finalists for what the company initially said would be its second corporate headquarters. From the get-go, there was a sense Bezos had probably made up his mind and the “open bidding” process was a way to play one region off another to win lucrative tax breaks.
Well, it worked. Look at what it reduced New York governor Andrew Cuomo to. An offer of $1.5 billion in subsidies and this pledge: “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” said the governor, who may be entertaining presidential ambitions.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker — thankfully — promised neither.
Instead, the state put on the table a generous — but not ruinous — set of incentives anchored by “betterments,” or targeted street and infrastructure improvements, that would help Amazon but also other residents who use those public amenities. Good for Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston for not getting drawn into a bidding war. (And for keeping their maiden names: Marty Prime just wouldn’t have the same ring.)
Amazon’s year-long search ended anticlimactically on Tuesday, after a steady stream of media leaks about the winning regions. But the official announcement also laid bare another ruse: Instead of 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment in one region, that kind of economic development will be split between two cities.
Sure, that’s still a lot of jobs, but c’mon: Does anyone believe Amazon only recently made up its mind on the scope of the project?
At some point, Bezos may rule the world, controlling what we buy and where we shop. That time is not quite here yet. Any Bostonians — or residents of the other also-ran cities with bruised egos — have a great opportunity: With Black Friday coming up, shop local instead.