While some political and business leaders celebrated the news of Amazon’s new office locations in Virginia and New York, backlash mounted among community groups and locals fearing a misappropriation of resources and accelerated gentrification. In a joint statement released just before Amazon’s official announcement, NY City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and Virginia State Senator Michael Gianaris released a joint statement, saying:
“We are witness to a cynical game in which Amazon duped New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars to one of the wealthiest companies on Earth for a promise of jobs that would represent less than 3% of the jobs typically created in our city over a 10-year period.”
According to a Zillow analysis, fears of increased homelessness and gentrification are not without merit. In Seattle, where Amazon presently has more than 45,000 employees and more than 19% of all prime office space in the city, the most of any employer in a major US city, home values increased by 73% over the last 5 years, with rents increasing by 31% over that same period, displacing low income families, and contributing to the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis, which ranks among the worst in the country.
However, proponents of the incentives and tax breaks argue that Amazon’s expansion into their cities is a smart investment. While submitting a proposal for Chicago, local officials argued that for each dollar Amazon invested in construction and operations in the city, $2.72 would be generated for the local economy, a multiplier that would benefit the local and regional economies in total.
Business Insider – Amazon’s reputation is taking another hit in the wake of its HQ2 decision