Last week Jeff Bezo's Amazon announced plans to acquire Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion. Amazon, the once online bookstore and now largest Internet-based retailer in the world has set its eyes on dominating the online grocery business. Amazon's growth however extends beyond its multi-level sales strategy.
Amazon's expansion can be in part attributed to its economic development team. Responsible for its site selection process and the execution of economic development, infrastructure, and tax related incentive negotiations, applications and legal incentive agreements; the well-oiled economic development team has secured millions of dollars in tax credits and incentives across the nation for the online retailer.
Below are five states Amazon's economic development team has been tremendously successful in:
In exchange for $15 million in Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment tax, $5 million in credits if Amazon surpasses initial job targets, and sales and use tax exemption of up to $5 million on equipment and construction materials, Amazon is building a $255 million new state-of-the-art 855,000 square-foot fulfillment center in New Haven and employing 1,800 new full-time employees.
In Pennsylvania, Amazon committed to expanding its fulfillment and distribution operations at multiple new sites creating 5,000 new jobs and investing at least $150 million over three years. In return, the Department of Community and Economic Development offered $5 million Pennsylvania First Program grant, $15 million in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon creation of the new jobs, and $2.25 million in Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania funding for employee training.
Illinois offered Amazon more than $112 million in Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits in three separate deals for 7,200 new jobs to build and operate facilities in Aurora, Monee, and Joliet. The City of Aurora offered an additional $400,000 property tax abatement.
Over $40 million in tax credits including $35.3 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits, $5.5 million in One Maryland tax credits, $1.7 million in estimated tax credits for job creation, and a $1.25 million forgivable loan, helped lure Amazon to Maryland as the company pledged to build a 1 million-square-foot warehouse in an economically distressed area of Baltimore, as well as create 1,000 jobs.
Amazon's $141 million newly constructed distribution center in Kenosha, Wisconsin that was expected to generate 1,100 jobs received $7 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits from The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
While many will argue Amazon's growth necessitates distribution centers, and therefore incentives should be approved as they are not essential for the project to go forward, Amazon's economic development team has nonetheless been tremendously successful at securing millions of dollars in tax credits.
Small and medium companies are not exempt from taking advantage of the same state and local government incentives. If companies believe tax credits are too cumbersome and complex, and do not have the wherewithal to research and negotiate, there is also the option to hire a consultant that specializes in tax credits and incentives. It would be incumbent of every growing company to look at Amazon as a model for obtaining incentives and make the business case that they too require incentives to thrive.