Amazon says it intends to employ 1,500 at the center, but only 130 of those positions would be above the 110 percent threshold. So the state's incentive package is built on only those 130 jobs, not the other 1,370 Amazon jobs, which are expected to average $30,000.
As a result, the state is giving incentives to a company that will bring in 10 lower paying jobs for every one higher paying one. Given that Salt Lake County is at virtually full employment, the employees Amazon hires for those $30,000 jobs will be quitting other employers. Should the state be subsidizing that?
Government incentives for Amazon's fulfillment centers, like the centers themselves, are all over the map, according to a Tribune investigation published Sunday. In Coppell, Texas, Amazon received no state subsidy to build a fulfillment center, although the city came up with $547,000. Aurora, Colo., also didn't get a state incentive for its Amazon center, but the city came up with its own $1,184,000. At the other end, Fresno, Calif., offered more than $11 million. (Salt Lake City did not offer any incentives in addition to GOED's $5.6 million.)
Unlike other GOED-incentivized projects, it's not clear that Utah was competing with any other state for the center. Amazon wants it here primarily to serve Utahns. Most surrounding states already have centers.
And, of course, all of this ignores the Utah jobs that have been lost because Amazon's decimation of traditional brick and mortar retail. To be clear, that upheaval is driven by customer preferences, and the disruption is inevitable. But it's a reasonable consideration when deciding how much economic development can be attributed to Amazon.
Amazon needs Utah as much as Utah needs Amazon. A smaller offer still would have closed the deal.