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Georgia Didn’t Offer Amazon the Moon … But Pretty Close

The package of benefits and perks that the state used to try to lure Amazon is astonishing.

Now that Amazon has made its decision for its second headquarters — dividing space between New York City and Northern Virginia, along with an operations center near Nashville — it’s interesting to see how much the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia were willing to offer up to lure the tech giant in.

Of course, we know that Georgia was so eager to whore itself out to the online shopping giant that conservatives lost opportunities at religious freedom legislation, but the state and its capital city were so smitten with “Amazon Love” (as a web page dedicated to the effort, complete with a header graphic highlighting Atlanta’s Pride Festival, describes it) that they made some pretty skanky offers.

The plans to show enough leg to lure Amazon were made public earlier this week, and what Georgia, Atlanta, and others were prepared to offer will blow your mind. For starters, the City of Atlanta was prepared to pony up $87 million in tax credits and $2.2 billion in infrastructure investments. The state was ready to throw over $2 billion in tax incentives, credits, and direct investment into the project, which would have taken place at one of over 60 locations in the northern half of the state.

One of the more interesting incentives on the table — without a price tag — was an Amazon-centered educational initiative. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports:

One of the components would have been an on-site “Amazon Georgia Academy” operated with the help of the University System of Georgia and the state tech college system. The price tag was listed as “incalculable/TBD” by state officials.

It would have offered a 24-week boot camp program for staffers, undergraduate and post-graduate coursework, and state-sponsored recruiters to help fill the company’s jobs. The state would pay to build the academy and pick up the first five years of operating costs — including salaries of professors and recruiters.

It gets even more gross. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was prepared to build an exclusive lounge and offer 50 special parking spaces for Amazon, and MARTA, Atlanta’s transit authority, discussed a special train car just for Amazon. The city batted around the idea of naming streets after Amazon products — names like “Alexa Way” and “Prime Place.”

All this, along with denying people of faith a religious freedom law — you know, something similar to what Virginia and Tennessee already have — and Georgia couldn’t lure Amazon. I shudder to think what New York and Virginia offered them.

(Photo credit: Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, tours Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, March 3, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee)

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