PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Local officials released their Amazon HQ2 proposal on Thursday, emphasizing zero cost to local taxpayers.
“Zero. There were no existing tax dollars that were going to Amazon. So, whether you lived in Monroeville or Bloomfield or Ross Township or Brookline, none of your existing tax dollars that go to pay for road paving, police, parks, etc. was going to go to Amazon. It was going to be all new money that was going to be generated by the taxes that were going to be brought in by 50,000 jobs and all the things that we talked about that were going to go to Amazon,” Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
In a glossy, 76-page packet entitled “Future. Forged. For All,” the region pitched itself, focusing on local talent and quality of life and offering Amazon at least five sites before pledging a future of growing together.
Those sites were:
- Hazelwood Green
- Lower Hill District (former Civic Arena site)
- Strip District (riverfront between 21st and 31st Streets)
- Carrie Furnace site (Swissvale)
- Next to Pittsburgh International Airport
Officials said all the new jobs would have generated $5.8 billion in new tax revenue, much of which would have gone back into the community to benefit more than just Amazon, said Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto.
“The Amazon proposal was for affordable housing. The Amazon proposal was for pre-K education. The Amazon proposal was for clean drinking water and increased public transit and light rail,” Peduto said. “We were looking at this as an opportunity for a true partnership.”
The mayor said the proposal anticipated the concerns of those who protested against Amazon.
“I watched last night as protests occurred in New York, saying what they need is affordable housing. We put that into the proposal to be able to address it at the forefront,” Peduto said.
So why did Amazon choose New York and Washington?
Local officials got this from a quick 10-minute conversation with Amazon.
“I think it came down to size,” Fitzgerald said. “It came down to size. Again, New York City and Washington D.C. are places nobody in the country could compete with.”
“I think that they really did go in with two minds. One mind of can we go into a smaller sized city and have a positive impact? Obviously, that’s what our proposal was about – How to create the anti-Seattle model. How do you create more affordable housing, better public transit, better infrastructure, better workforce development by having a company of this size move in? Or, do they go into a large area, where it’s diluted and they have a minimal impact?” Peduto said. “At the end of the day, their decision was they were going big.”
“They were very, very positive about Pittsburgh,” Fitzgerald said.
“They could not have been more complimentary toward Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania,” Peduto said.
Officials concluded the whole experience was a net positive.
“This is an optimistic time for Pittsburgh,” concluded Fitzgerald.