Amazon is reportedly about to select the winner of its second headquarters project known as HQ2.
Or should I say "winner"?
It turns out that, if the New York Times is right, Amazon almost agrees to divide its HQ2 project into two cities: New York City and Arlington, Virginia. The two cities are reportedly receiving a previously unknown part of the 50,000 employees and the $ 5 billion investment that Amazon promised to the winners of the project.
Wait, what? That was not part of the plan.
When Amazon, as reported, selects two cities for HQ2, then all the promised Amazon go out the window. What sets this apart from Amazon's presence in other cities where it has offices, like Boston or Los Angeles?
Will the company name HQ2 at both sites several hundred kilometers apart? Or should we just think of HQ2 as the entire east coast ̵
In fact, Amazon already has a significant number of employees in DC and New York City. The Times says it has the largest number of employees outside Seattle and employs thousands of workers in each city.
Does Amazon not extend the meaning of the word "head office" here? What is the difference between a big satellite office in a city and what Amazon calls a "headquarters"?
There is a difference between Amazon employees, but that is unlikely to be the case for taxpayers – which will be a big part of the bill, given the tax incentives that Amazon demands.
Read more: People are angry at Amazon's decision to divide their HQ2 after months of deliberation between New York City and Virginia
Critic of Amazon's long drawn selection process already questioned that there could even be a "second center". Dividing the project into two headquarters of equal size only reinforces the argument that the whole process was a trick to play cities against each other to maximize incentives.
It also breaks Amazon's initial mandate for the project that HQ2 would be "fully equivalent" to its Seattle headquarters. When it's disconnected, it's not the same.
Amazon has so hindered its HQ2 investment that cities are ready to do anything for the chance to land it. Amazon has probably at least taken into account, and when he realized that it would be easier to count the cities that did not take the chance to have Amazon in the backyard, the strategy shifted to maximizing profits.
Although we do not yet know what tax incentives Amazon has offered to select these two cities, and what Amazon offered in return, we can safely assume they are billions of dollars.
City and state leaders seized the opportunity for a high-level profit – and an obvious advantage that constituents would see and appreciate. The benefits to local communities and governments – economically or otherwise – are now not so obvious.
If Amazon succeeds in robbing Virginia and New York of essentially millions of tax revenues and not even offering what they originally promised, what else can they do?
Read more about Amazon's HQ2 project: