Editorial: A simple pitch to Amazon

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cities and states throughout the nation are pulling out all the stops to convince Amazon that they offer the best spot for HQ2 – the corporate behemoth’s second headquarters. Some of them are really, really thinking outside the box.

Tucson sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon’s HQ1 in Seattle. Stonecrest, Ga., has offered to shave off a 345-acre piece of itself to become the new city of Amazon, Ga. Birmingham, Ala., placed a bunch of truly giant Amazon shipping boxes throughout the city.

Other potential dance partners clearly believe – and they’re probably correct – that piling bags of money in front of Jeff Bezos is the best way to woo the company. Worcester, Mass., offered $500 million in property tax breaks, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is dangling $7 billion in tax credits, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan promised a “mind-boggling” incentive package.

To his credit, Gov. Chris Sununu isn’t jumping through hoops, financial or otherwise, to try to lure a company that most likely already knows what geographical region it plans to conquer (Denver? Austin? Atlanta?). Offer big incentives to Amazon and the next companies in line are going to want a deal, too.

New Hampshire is a great place to live and work for a lot of well-established reasons, and that formed the basis of Sununu’s Amazon pitch (along with a healthy dose of Massachusetts bashing). Good public schools, Mother Nature at her most glorious, a well-educated workforce and high-quality health care are among the factors that have lured people, if not businesses, to the state for decades.

But when Amazon publicly says “No thanks” to the Woodmont Commons site in Londonderry, which it no doubt already has in private, Sununu and the state Legislature must ask themselves just how much an underfunded university system and lack of rail service hurt the state’s chances. Because both of those factors will almost certainly hurt the state’s chances some other time with some other business.

But until then, at least the governor can take solace in the fact that he didn’t send a giant birch tree to Seattle.