Columbus has made the first cut for Amazon’s HQ2, so it’s probably time to start taking this seriously.
The Columbus bid should still be viewed as a long shot, but making the top 20 of 238 bids is impressive, especially when considering what cities have been offering.
So what did Columbus offer?
Luckily for us, the package Columbus offered was made public (some cities were obstinate about revealing what they offered Amazon, refusing Freedom of Information Act requests from journalists – including Cleveland which did not make the cut). Here’s the document, thanks to WOSU:
Noteworthy elements of the Columbus package:
- A 100% property tax abatement at all Amazon sites, for 15 years.
- A Jobs Growth Incentive package that would function as a cash payment pegged to how much Amazon employees pay in Columbus city taxes. 35% of those taxes would be returned to Amazon over the first 15 years, capped at $50,000,000 in one year and $400,000,000 in total.
- 25% of employees’ Columbus city taxes would go into a Transit & Mobility Fund.
- This means 60% of new tax revenue would be returned to Amazon in one form or another. Much was made of Chicago allowing Amazon to decide what to do with 50-100% of the taxes their employees pay – the bid from Columbus is not appreciably different. At least for the first 30 years of operations, which goes into the next point.
- A land acquisition and site preparation reimbursement fund that would begin in the 16th year of operations and continue through the 30th year. This would take 25% of Amazon employees Columbus city taxes and return the money to Amazon for land acquisition and site preparation. These payments would not exceed $5 million on any one year, or $75 million total.
Columbus goes on to mention they are only interested in incentivizing jobs that pay over $15 an hour, which should not be a problem as average wages at HQ2 are expected by analysts to top $100k.
It is also worth noting that this is the initial bid, only. It is difficult to imagine that Columbus wouldn’t pony up more if Amazon asks.