Upzoned by Strong Towns

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December 3, 2018  

Amazon HQ2: Really, New York?

December 3, 2018

This week on Upzoned, Kea and Chuck talk about the indisputable biggest story in urbanist news in the past month: Amazon HQ2, or more accurately, Amazon HQ 2 through 4. Though the two of them have disagreed in the past on whether the nation's largest retailer is always a problem for cities, they both agree that the company's decision to locate in New York City, Northern Virginia and Nashville—and more importantly, those places' decisions to court Amazon with massive tax subsidies in the first place—reveals something pretty ugly about the state of economic development in our cities.

And it can't be explained by desperation for growth at any cost. New York City, says Chuck, is the last place that should ever have to pay a major corporation to locate there. Why would the city and state bend over backwards to lure Amazon—what did they hope to gain? Was it simply that, in the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo, "We had to win"?

And what do better alternatives look like? Kea and Chuck discuss economic gardening, a bottom-up approach to economic development that is deeply promising and stands in dramatic contrast to the silver-bullet approach represented by the Amazon HQ2 contest.

Please accept our apologies for some slight problems with the audio on this recording.

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