Confirming rumours that have swirled for over a week, USA -based e-commerce giant Amazon has formally announced that Long Island City in New York City and National Landing in Arlington, Virginia will serve as the two sites for the company's second North American headquarters (HQ2). Amazon had promised 50,000 jobs averaging at least $100,000 to the victor.
Wages at the Long Island City and Arlington offices are expected to average out to approximately $150,000 United States dollars (roughly $193,693 CAD).
On a per-job basis, New York's offer to Amazon is about typical for the state but well above the national average for such deals, said Timothy J. Bartik, an economist for the Upjohn Institute in Kalamazoo, Mich., who has studied tax incentives. The company will also apply for additional incentives from New York City.
In addition, Amazon will receive $23 million cash from the local Arlington County authorities based on an expected increase in hotel taxes, which needs to be approved by the County Board.
The company will receive up to $550 million United States dollars (roughly $728.52 million CAD) as a workforce cash grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as an additional $23 million USD (roughly $30.47 million CAD) cash grant from the City of Arlington over 15 years based on incremental growth forecasts.
In all, Virginia has promised Amazon it will spend up to $295 million on transportation projects. They used marketing gimmicks - Tucson tried to send a giant saguaro cactus - and formal proposals like training programs and billions in tax incentives.
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The decision was finally declared on Tuesday after a year-long bidding battle between more than 200 cities that had winded down to the 20 finalists last January including Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles.
In New York, Amazon selected Long Island City, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East Side - a location it touted for its blend of cultural institutions, arts organizations, new and converted housing, restaurants, bars, breweries, waterfront parks, hotels, academic institutions, and small and large tech sector and industrial businesses. Amazon is planning to invest $230 million in the the Operations Center, which is expected to create about 5,000 jobs.
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After the ceremony, leaders returned to the Elysee for a lunch hosted by Macron, while the spouses lunched at Versailles. The president did not show an immediate reply, sitting quietly, often with his head down during Macron's speech.
In a statement to CBS News, Amazon said, "Economic incentives were one factor in our decision - but attracting top talent was the leading driver".
Parilla described the conundrum facing cities wooing big companies as a "prisoner's dilemma". He vowed investigations at every level of government and said City Council lawyers are developing litigation strategies.
Salaries are still expected to average around $150,000 (£116,000) annually, which is around double the median household income in New York City - a metropolitan area now struggling with rising rents and failing infrastructure.
"I had to excuse myself from from my son's birthday party, because agents were texting and calling me to say they were swamped", said Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces, which markets the lion's share of new development sales in Long Island City.
Amazon is known for its negotiating prowess.
A coalition of nonprofit groups warned that Amazon's arrival will likely worsen housing affordability for many lower-income workers in the two cities.
This time, Amazon should aim to avoid the loss of affordable housing and surging homelessness that came with the explosion of growth in Washington State, said Margaret O'Mara, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, who has studied the history of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs.
Amazon plans to build up to 8 million square feet of back offices using three lots owned by Plaxall and three owned by the city. On Tuesday, Amazon.com Inc. confirmed that it had picked not one but two locations for its planned second headquarters, which it has dubbed HQ2.
Nonetheless, the extra space will help the rapidly growing company.
One Court Square, with the Citi logo atop it, has been an iconic feature of the Long Island City skyline.