July 18, 2019

Rethinking Corporate Partnerships

“How we got here: There were signs that Amazon’s North America–wide search for a new corporate headquarters might end with a twist from the beginning, when it first announced the HQ2 competition more than a year ago. Amazon promised it would infuse 50,000 jobs and billions in investment in one winning location, and 238 jurisdictions jumped at the chance to compete. The plan seemed like an elaborate, Willy Wonka–style PR boon.

What could have been the end of the competition came last November, when Amazon announced it would be splitting its HQ2 into HQs two and three, putting one 25,000-employee office in Long Island City, Queens, another in Northern Virginia, and a third 5,000-employee satellite in Nashville, Tennessee. The choice seemed obvious: Near D.C., Amazon would consolidate access to political power; in New York City, financial power. In both, the company would find a large pool of tech talent.

What Amazon wasn’t counting on, however, was New York City’s chilly reception. Opponents of the plan on the ground and in state and local government were outraged that, with no public oversight, New York had offered the company—helmed by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos—$3 billion in tax incentives, and a building site next to the largest public-housing development in the country.”

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