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Cities Start Lining Up to Lavish Riches Upon Amazon

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Retail giant Amazon recently announced that it will be building a second headquarters to pair with its current one in Seattle. Cities have been asked to bid for Amazon’s affections, and the company will choose one that offers the best-trained workforce and highest quality of municipal life.

Or maybe just the biggest dumptruck of money.

Indeed, cities desperate for both the jobs — and the status — that Amazon confers are ready to lavish the company with riches typically reserved for NFL owners.

Some of the overtures are strange, like Tucson shipping a cactus to Seattle. Others are stalker-worthy, like Frisco, Texas, pledging to literally build the city around Amazon.

The Wharton School of Business is forcing adult students to write letters to Jeff Bezos telling him why he should choose Philadelphia — useful, given Amazon’s interest in drones.

Meanwhile, Tulsa has set up something that’s been called an Amazon “war room,” perhaps because “office” didn’t sound desperate enough.

Many economists consider Amazon’s “second headquarters” strategy to be a cynical money grab — swooping in to grab tax breaks and benefits while adding a questionable amount of economic growth. But for the corporations themselves, there’s massive upside.

Take Boeing as a recent example. The aviation giant recently moved its “headquarters” to Chicago, but nearly all of its jobs remain at its plants in Washington State and South Carolina. This has angered Illinois residents who decry such handouts when the state is deeply in debt (to say nothing of the new stadium they’ll have to buy the Bears in a few years, lest they move to Frisco, Texas, which is presumably ready to re-construct around them).

But for now, Amazon gets to kick back and enjoy the sales pitches. Some of them are crazy, like Frisco’s. Some of them make sense, like Washington, DC’s pitch as the nation’s capital.

And some of them are just kind of depressing. Like a pitch from Danbury, Connecticut, that Amazon should move there because they… own an Echo Dot.