In a message to members, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce President Michael J. Quaranta recently took note of the decision by Amazon to walk away from one of its HQ2 projects in New York City.
As you might remember,the project faced neighborhood opposition from residents worried about being driven out one of the remaining affordable neighborhoods (by New York City standards).
There was also the question of whether New York City was giving away the store with billions in incentives.
Delaware was an also-ran in the Amazon sweepstakes, with the consolation prize of a Philadelphia H2Qnot making the final cut.
Amazon did pick the Pentagon City area near Washington, D.C.The area was loaded with empty office space that seemed to be a drawing card for Amazon.
New York’s unease with Amazon was heightened by the online giant ’s take it or leave it attitude, which was easy to exploit by local politicians, some of whom did not represent the area in question.
Polls indicated overall support for the New York City project, but that did not stop opponents such as high-profile freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez from taking a victory lap once Amazon walked away.
New York state’s budget director responded by taking note of the safeguards that were in place as well as economic benefits that outstripped any government incentives.
Quaranta did not bring up the Amazon issue in an effort to slam opponents.
Instead, his message was a cautionary note on the increasing resistance to government involvement in economic development. That stance has migrated to both the far right and far left ends of the political spectrum in Delaware and elsewhere.
In a perfect world, it would be better if state and local governments did not have to hand out incentives to add and retain jobs.
It is also true that neighboring New Jersey has been lavishly handing out incentives in luring companies to Camden, with little apparent oversightover results.
By contrast, Delaware is taking a measured approach, with modest-sized grants that should be quickly recouped throughincome tax revenues.
The Delaware Prosperity Partnership and Gov. Carney held their first town hall earlier this month in Georgetown to discuss economic development. The partnership,a public-private organization, is seeing some early success in its efforts.
So far (fingers crossed), we have not seen aQueens-style pushback. But more outreach will be needed to tell the story of the state’sprudent approach.
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