Business experts warn of negative impacts of Amazon HQ

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - City of Memphis is rolling out the red carpet in an effort to lure Amazon's second headquarters to set up in the Bluff City. The effort includes tax incentives and now a grassroots campaign in the community.

However, a report from Memphis Business Journal revealed just how much in incentives Amazon has already gotten nationwide.

"They have received $1.2 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies and incentives for their facilities across the country," said Meagan Nichols, lead reporter with Memphis Business Journal.

That is the headline from a 6-month investigation into Amazon by Memphis Business Journal and its more than three dozen sister publications nationwide. Despite the findings, Nichols noted it's not uncommon for big developments to get big breaks.

"What we found from our reporting was that the jury is still out in terms of: Are they delivering on the jobs and economic impact they promise on the front end?" she said.

Last week, Memphis City Council signed off on incentives the city would offer to Amazon. The proposal included a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT), $50 million connected to job growth and $10 million to improve public transportation.

Council members said the hefty package would be worth it.

"If we can afford to do it, let's try to do it, because it brings a positive impact to the City of Memphis," said council chair Berlin Boyd after the decision last week.

Whether Amazon picks Memphis or not, the online giant already has a big presence and impact in the Bluff City through International Paper and FedEx. Nichols reported Amazon is a large customer of FedEx, and IP is responsible for the production of 1 in 3 boxes in the U.S.

"What are two things Amazon needs a lot of, and that's boxes and a way to move those boxes," she said.

As attention turns to the city's bid, the grassroots campaign #MemphisDelivers hopes to spotlight the city's benefits. On Wednesday, the Harahan Bridge downtown was lit up in Amazon orange.

Proposals are due to Amazon from cities across the country by October 19.

To read more on the Amazon impact investigation by Memphis Business Journal, including potential impacts on Autozone, click here.

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