Not everyone wants Amazon to build a new headquarters in Minnesota

Here's the argument against it from DFLer Tina Liebling.

Last week Amazon announced plans to build a brand new, multimillion-square-foot, job-creating second headquarters, and asked states and cities across North America to put together their best pitch.

There's a lot at stake: a $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs for the city that proves it has the best assets and incentives.

Which is why dozens of cities – including Minneapolis – are like "Pick me! Pick me!"

Officials from cities like Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. have been chiming in about why their community would be the best fit for Amazon and its gajillion dollars. It seems the bidding war has officially kicked off.

But not everyone wants Amazon to build a second home in their city.

Tina Liebling, a DFL candidate for Governor of Minnesota, says our state should reject the "Amazon HQ sweepstakes," because welcoming a giant corporation here could actually do more harm than good.

Her argument

Liebling put out a news release on Monday that explains why she "respectfully disagrees" with Gov. Mark Dayton's plans to submit a bid.

"Minnesota is a great state for business, with a hard-working and well educated workforce, good schools, and a high quality of life. We should not and need not offer tax breaks to huge corporations that give them further advantages over Main Street businesses," her statement begins.

Liebling says if she were elected governor, she would welcome companies that want to expand and bring jobs here – but not at the expense of everyday Minnesotans.

"Any requested 'deal' – especially with companies whose business model drives may have negative impacts on Minnesota’s small businesses, natural resources, or other assets – must be evaluated by whether it has broad benefits for ordinary Minnesotans that outweigh any public costs and risks," she states.

Liebling cites the "Wisconsin FoxConn disaster" as an example Minnesota should learn from. FoxConn is the world’s largest manufacturer of computer electronic parts, but its deal to build a plant in Wisconsin has been deeply criticized for putting corporations before taxpayers. 

Instead of bidding for Amazon, Liebling believes Minnesota should focus on reviving our towns and local economies by repealing the special tax benefits for corporations and the very wealthy, and using that money to help ordinary Minnesotans get access to education and health care.

"Governor Dayton has done many good things for Minnesota, but this situation demonstrates the need to elect a true progressive to follow him and continue a move toward prosperity for all, not special breaks for huge corporations like Amazon," Liebling said.

What Amazon is looking for

Amazon wants interested parties to submit this proposal form by Oct. 19. And they've got some specific preferences:

  • Metro areas with more than 1 million people.
  • A "stable and business-friendly environment."
  • Urban or suburban is fine, but strong technical talent needs to be available.
  • Communities also need to think "big" and "creatively" about their space suggestion.
  • Within 30 miles of a population center, and within 45 minutes driving time of an airport.
  • Mass transit at the site is preferable, with lots of roads for easy access.
  • The space needs to be 500,000 square feet to start – with the space to grow to 8 million square feet.
  • There's a timeline here, so the site needs to be ready to build on, or able to be retrofitted for a 2019 opening.
  • Fiber connectivity and good cell service is a must.

As a major metro market with more than 3 million people, a business environment that supports 18 Fortune 500 companies, a nearby airport that handles lots of traffic, and generally happy, healthy people with easy access to parks, the Twin Cities area has a decent case to make.

But the New York Times insists it's figured out the perfect location for Amazon, and it's not here.

Minnesota supporters

Gov. Dayton is among those showing enthusiasm for the project. Last week, he announced plans to meet with the state's economics commissioner, Shantera Hardy, to "prepare a compelling proposal" for Amazon.

Paul Thissen, a DFL state representative from Minneapolis who is running for governor, said the St Paul Ford plant property or a vacant site in Arden Hills might be options.

And St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (also a gubernatorial candidate) said the region is "situated perfectly to attract technology and innovation jobs."

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