In the Amazon HQ2 Sweepstakes, North Carolinians Should Be Rooting Against Raleigh

Amazon’s recent announcement that Raleigh made the list of finalists for the company’s second headquarters should send shivers down the spine of North Carolinians. After all, when you play the game of Amazon headquarters, lose by winning.

How Much Per Job?!

It seems contradictory, but it’s true. Winning a corporate welfare debacle means massive taxpayer-funded handouts to big, out-of-state companies that will likely last for decades.

While advocates sing the praises of these kinds of deals, the facts paint a less-than-rosy picture. One study found that blockbuster deals like the one North Carolina is likely offering Amazon cost taxpayers more than $450,000 for every job created.

North Carolina has already dodged this bullet a few times. Earlier this month officials announced a planned Toyota-Mazda auto manufacturing plant will be going to Alabama instead of the Tar Heel state.

Thank goodness. North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Anthony Copeland recently said the state was ready to offer the car companies nearly $1.5 billion dollars. Considering that the plant was going to hire around 4,000 workers, taxpayers would have been shelling out around $375,000 per job.

Not the First Time

A ridiculous offer like that would have been a bad deal in anyone’s book, but Gov. Roy Cooper apparently doesn’t think so. He’s been trying to give away the store to hand-picked corporations since he took office, shelling out more than $167 million so far.

In 2017 he tried to hand out $570 million to Foxconn, a tech company from Taiwan. That’s nearly $200,000 of taxpayer money per job!

A recent article in The Atlantic explains that these big taxpayer-funded handouts are often just the beginning of what these deals cost taxpayers.

In 1983, for example, after the little town of Wellston, Ohio, and the state, used tax breaks to attract a Jeno’s frozen-pizza plant from Minnesota, the town’s sewer system nearly collapsed while handling 400,000 gallons of pizza-ingredient sludge emerging from the factory. So the state had to use a federal block grant of over $500,000 to bail out the company and the town.

Ssh…It’s A Secret

When it comes to the Amazon sweepstakes, keeping taxpayers in the dark makes things worse. North Carolina officials are refusing to be transparent about how the state plans to hand out families’ hard-earned money to out-of-state corporate giants.

We know they’ve blown nearly $100,000 to try to tempt Amazon with digital ads, t-shirts and even ads on buses in Seattle. Beyond that, details are scarce, but based on other offers cities are making, it can’t be good.

Chicago offered to let Amazon keep income taxes paid by employees. Fresno, Calif., offered to give Amazon partial control of how the tax dollars it generates are spent.

Young North Carolinians deserve better than being forced to watch their tax dollars fund a bizarre game of picking winners and losers at the expense of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

When it comes to the Amazon sweepstakes, we should all be hoping we wind up winning by losing.

Fed up with corporate welfare? Tell Gov. Cooper you’ve had enough.

Author Generation Opportunity

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