Message to Mayor Garcetti: ‘No’ to corporate welfare; our values are not for sale
Aubry Stone, of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, says Amazon HQ2 will wreak havoc on local businesses
Angelino small business owners are discovering Amazon HQ2 will wreak havoc on thousands of small businesses
By AUBRY STONE
Special to California Black Media
Amazon is getting ready to select a home for its second headquarters, and the tech giant claims it will choose a location with a strong university system, highly educated labor pool, and compatible cultural and community environment. Naturally, Los Angeles is on the HQ2 shortlist.
At first glance, hosting HQ2 sounds like a point of pride. The rewards — 50,000 potential jobs and $5 billion in investment — look great on paper. But both the direct and indirect costs to Southern California are high and potentially devastating. Los Angeles, for example with the probable Warner Center location as well as a few others, is wooing Amazon with financial incentives, infrastructure investments, and de facto free land.
But what many Angelino small business owners are discovering – better late than never – is that says Amazon on thousands of small businesses that make up the local fabric of our communities while giving unprecedented tax subsidies and corporate welfare to one of the richest companies in the world. Today, local retailers across America admit that Amazon is the biggest threat to their existence. With Amazon’s worldwide reach across industries from restaurants to retailers, experts project a threat on 12 million decent paying jobs.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti should keep his focus and his constituents’ hard-earned tax dollars on fixing the homeless situation and lack of affordable housing, as opposed to enticing Amazon to locate its HQ2 in L.A. Giving billions of dollars to a company that has long failed to pay its employees a living wage or pay its fair share in taxes to help fund local schools, roads and healthcare systems is a financial blank check the City cannot afford to write.
We have heard the stories of our neighbors in Inglewood when the football stadium construction began for the Rams and Chargers. Small businesses in a strip mall near the stadium site such as Hi-Tech Cleaners felt the impact and fear for their ultimate survival.
Small businesses, the bedrock of all our communities, are closing in droves because they cannot compete with Amazon. Local retailers are the backbone of our economy, but many are finding themselves unable to keep up with a company that continues to have an unfair advantage. Main Street businesses such as the Hi-Tech Cleaners in Inglewood have made it clear that big corporations such as Amazon are affecting their ability to stay competitive, attract new customers or even keep the lights on.
There are over 28 million small businesses in the U.S., which account for more than 63 percent of net new jobs. Amazon poses a direct threat to the millions of Americans who depend on these businesses to earn a living and provide for their family.
What does it say about our values as a city, region, and state that we are prepared to give massive sums of money to one of the largest companies in the world, which already doesn’t pay its fair share in taxes? We are failing thousands of hardworking people who balance their lives paycheck-to-paycheck or who are struggling to get off the streets?
It would be a complete betrayal of our citizens to allow this to happen. Los Angeles must say “No” to unprecedented corporate welfare and send a clear message that our values are not for sale.
Aubry Stone is the president and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce.