by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Amazon’s recent announcement of a distribution center in Garner is one of thirteen so far this year, with more likely to be announced in the coming weeks and months ahead, joining locations in Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Washington. Incentive offers have differed from place to place, which suggests the company is using data from its HQ2 bidding frenzy to set prices for location decisions the way it uses everything you do on the web to constantly readjust prices for everything you might want. That’s what Liz Farmer concludes in a recent article for Governing magazine.
Using data from Good Jobs First, Farmer found that Amazon would receive “$51 million in state, county and local tax incentives, on top of an unspecified amount in local occupational tax incentives” for its 1,500-job distribution center in Alabama but as little as $2.3 million in local incentives for its location in Oklahoma. Farmer notes, “Good Jobs First’s Amazon database shows a huge variance in reported subsidies — from $50,000 for a distribution center in Taylor County, Ky., to multimillion-dollar deals for facilities in Maryland, Michigan and Ohio, to name a few.” The Garner site is on the lower end according to the News & Observer, with $600,000 from the town and $4.5 million from the Department of Transportation for road improvements, plus property tax abatements for redeveloping the site.