Amazon wins big with split decision for NYC, Virginia headquarters

Last Updated Nov 13, 2018 7:22 PM EST

NEW YORK — There's a winner in Amazon's new headquarters sweepstakes. Two, actually.

The split decision Tuesday by the world's largest retailer follows a frenzied competition and billions of dollars in promised tax subsidies.

Amazon's choice of New York City's Long Island City in the borough of Queens and the D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, had been a poorly kept secret. With Tuesday's official announcement, the retail giant detailed what the two cities get: $5 billion in investments and 50,000 jobs earning an average of $150,000 a year.

"We need a lot of tech employees, software developers, computer scientists, engineers and both cities have available talent locally," Amazon senior vice president Jay Carney said.

The news ended a grand 14-month marketing campaign that inspired 238 cities to go to enormous lengths — some of it bordering on the absurd — to win the prize.

The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, wrote 1,000 Amazon product reviews and posted a video of him doing it.

But Amazon may be the biggest winner, with more than $2 billion in tax giveaways and a massive amount of marketing data handed over by the 20 finalists. That gave the online retail giant a leg up on its marketing, shipping and logistics decisions.

The cities clearly believe Amazon will help them, but if Seattle's experience is any indicator, the relationship could be bumpy. Amazon has been blamed for Seattle's stagnant wages and lack of affordable housing. That has residents, like New York's Jonathan Westin, concerned.

"I think New York City is at a point where we don't need to recruit businesses to come here," said Westin, the executive director of New York Communities for Change. "There's lots of businesses that are coming here without any subsidies without any tax breaks without anything."