Cities are also offering billions of dollars in tax breaks in exchange for the HQ2 bid.
Maryland passed a $8.5 billion incentives package designed to attract Amazon's second headquarters to the state, while New Jersey put $7 billion on the table at the beginning of the HQ2 search process.
Offering enormous tax breaks to one of the most successful companies in the world rubs some people the wrong way. A petition started by a group of elite economists argues that cities — including the top contenders for HQ2 — should band together against such incentives because they "divert funds that could be put to better use underwriting public services such as schools, housing programs, job training, and transportation."
In return for subsidies, local governments are promised an increase in jobs and economic prosperity. But that doesn't always happen.
A 2018 study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that the overall employment rates don't change when Amazon opens a new warehouse in a city.
Amazon, which has opened fulfillment centers in 25 states, disputes the group's findings.
"If you look at more current information, you will see that these data points are not demonstrative of our current network, community impact, and both the direct and indirect job creation near fulfillment centers," a company representative said previously, adding that "Amazon's investments led to the creation of 200,000 additional non-Amazon jobs, ranging from construction jobs to healthcare industry positions."
The winning HQ2 city should consider how the 8-million-square-foot campus will transform its urban (or suburban) fabric over the next few decades, according to Amy Webb, a futurist who periodically consults local governments.
"I don't know a single [US] city that has a team dedicated to longterm planning, which looks at how its companies and the city itself will grow," she told BI. "In a sense, HQ2 has become like a lottery ... And in the meantime, the city did not say, in exchange for these tax breaks, you have to invest in public schools and transportation, you have to employ people who live inside the city, you have to contribute to the tax base and the people who work there — all those things that are good for the future of the city."