For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2018
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 -

Grosso opposes additional incentives for Amazon HQ2

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the District of Columbia's bid for Amazon to establish their second headquarters in the city:

"In recent months, the District of Columbia has engaged in a bidding war to curry favor with Amazon, seeking to entice them to establish their second headquarters, HQ2, in the city. Advocates for aggressively pursuing the internet behemoth tout the jobs, tax revenue, and prestige that would accrue to the District should we be picked. I certainly understand those arguments and would welcome Amazon to join our strong business community. But, the current state of the chase makes me wonder: at what cost?

"One of the most troubling aspects of the hunt for Amazon has been the opaqueness with which D.C.'s bid has been developed. Our open government laws and local reporting have made D.C.'s offer partially public, though highly redacted. Most of what the public can see are pre-existing incentives available to most businesses seeking to set up shop in our city. One could reasonably presume that the large black boxes in the bid shield the Mayor's offer of millions of additional public dollars in incentives that would require approval from the D.C. Council. It is problematic, then, that such details have not been proactively shared with me and my colleagues.

"The secrecy shrouding the bid is frustrating but so are the implications providing such incentives has for our responsibility to meet our residents' needs. Every year during the budget process I hear warnings from the District's Chief Financial Officer or some of my colleagues that though the city is in a strong fiscal position we cannot always expect it to be that way. This argument is generally used to discourage additional investments in human services, affordable housing, and even education. I worry that draining city coffers to bring Amazon here would intensify the calls for restraint in the investments that directly impact our residents. And while there is no doubt that Amazon could increase the tax revenue which could be redirected into city services, history tells us that will not happen. I worked as a staffer for the Council's Committee on Economic Development when we began revitalization. We made that same promise back then and yet we consistently fall short of fulfilling it.

"Instead of attracting outside entities with untold resources, we could be boosting the District's local business community, one that includes a flourishing technology industry. These small tech startups could benefit from the same incentives as Amazon. Such an investment would be spread across the city, rather than a centrally located HQ, cultivate homegrown businesses, and promote competition. Stacking the deck in favor of one large player could have the exact opposite effect.

"The District of Columbia is a great city to live and work in, with new people and companies flocking here daily. It is attractive in its own right. Though the benefits of Amazon choosing D.C. for its new home are not in doubt, the benefit of bending over backward to lure it here–at the expense of our current residents and local businesses–is. That is why I cannot and will not support any additional incentives to bring Amazon's HQ2 to D.C."


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