Amazon stirred up excitement last year when it announced plans to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America outside its Seattle home. The company triggered a coast-to-coast bidding war as cities dangled generous tax breaks and other incentives to woo Amazon and the 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investments it promised.
As the world learned on Tuesday, they need not have bothered. Amazon ultimately decided to split its so-called HQ2 in two, dividing operations, investment, and jobs between Long Island City in Queens, New York, and Arlington, Virginia. Instead of a full-blown second headquarters, the company essentially decided to expand its existing offices in New York and Virginia.
Credit Amazon — and Holly Sullivan, who led the process — for extracting maximum financial benefits from the cities and getting an incredible deal for the company.
But Amazon may suffer a serious downside in reputational damage as backlash grows against what now looks to many to have been a sham of a process — and a rapacious one, for a company with as much money as Amazon.
Adding to the damage, Amazon’s Mike Grella on Twitter lambasted people who had supposedly leaked information about the site selection. In the process, he highlighted the fact that much of the bidding for HQ2 was done behind closed doors, without input from the public or, in some cases, local elected officials.