Amazon announced this week that they will no longer locate a secondary headquarters in Long Island after receiving a wave of backlash from local politicians and community groups. Last year, the retail juggernaut completed perhaps the largest RFP process in U.S. history when they selected Long Island, NY and Crystal City, VA to house their new digs. Their decision came after cities from around the country offered everything from huge tax breaks to free real estate to lure world’s most valuable company. Shortly after Amazon announced they were rescinding their plans for Long Island, news broke that the company would be paying zero federal income taxes on their 11 Billion dollars in earnings for 2018 further fueling the perspective that Amazon is greedy and exploiting our system. The community groups that were against the Amazon deal in Long Island claimed, among other things, that the new headquarters would put additional strain on the community’s aging infrastructure without a boost in tax revenue to pay for much needed maintenance and improvements. My take is that Amazon’s RFP process was a bit of a sham and that they always planned on choosing the New York and Washington DC areas to be near the country’s financial power base and public policy makers. Because they employ so many people, they have the leverage to negotiate extraordinarily favorable financial incentives. I do believe that companies and sole proprietors that employ lots of people deserve tax incentives, but Amazon blew the Long Island deal by essentially excluding community groups from their negotiations. Amazon may be the wealthiest company on earth but they proved that they are still amateurs when dealing with the minefields of local politics. Did the politicians and community groups that drove Amazon and 25,000 jobs out of Long Island do their residents, small businesses, and property owners a disservice? Possibly, but I think it demonstrates that some communities no longer subscribe to the belief that jobs at cost is always good… Right or wrong, I think in this case the advocates did exactly what they are supposed to do. Other communities will learn from this scenario and Amazon and other big companies probably won’t make the same mistake again. Don’t underestimate the power of local politics.
Selling during a downturn required a more strategic approach, but the opportunities for growth and expansion are available to the savviest of companies. Here are some of the best ideas I’ve read about.
I remember with NAR, the National Association of REALTORS®, invited me to participate on a panel session on diversity at their national convention back in 2002. I had never been to an NAR convention, but had heard that they were huge with 20,000+ attendees.