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Nashville may not have been picked for Amazon's second headquarters, but the online retail giant said today it will invest more than $230 million to establish a new Operations Center of Excellence in the downtown of Tennessee's Capitol City.

As part of Amazon's investment, the company said it will create 5,000 jobs in Nashville in the single largest jobs commitment made by a company in Tennessee's history.

"This is a game changer for Tennessee," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in an announcement of Amazon's decision. "Amazon has spent the past year searching the nation for the best possible locations to expand and it chose Tennessee because of our business-friendly policies, low taxes and skilled workforce."

Incentives offered to Amazon:

-- Performance-based incentives of up to $102 million based on 5,000 jobs created over 7 years with an average wage of over $150,000.

-- Cash grant of up to $15 million based on $500 for each job created over the next 7 years.

-- Job tax credit to offset franchise and excise taxes from the state of Tennessee of $21.7 million based on $4,500 per new job over the next 7 years.

City Benefits:

-- 5,000 full-time jobs with an average wage exceeding $150,000.

-- More than $230 million in investment.

-- 1 million square feet of energy-efficient office space.

-- Estimated incremental tax revenue of more than $1 billion over the next 10 years.

Amazon announced today it has picked two East Coast cities in the suburbs of New York City and Washington D.C. to split its second headquarters facility.

The new headquarter facilities will be located in Long Island City, a neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City, and Crystal City, a section of Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington. Amazon already had sizable offices in both cities. Amazon said it will hire more than 25,000 employees in each location.

In Nashville, which was one of the 20 finalists for Amazon's second headquarters outside of its home in Seattle, Amazon will build a million-square-foot office complex in Nashville Yards, a 15-acre, mixed-use development near downtown. The Nashville project is projected to create more than 13,000 jobs for Tennessee's workforce when all of the direct and indirect jobs from the investment are added up, officials said.

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, a state senator in Chattanooga, tweeted today that the announcement is a "really big deal for TN" and he applauded the "great work" by the state's Department of Economic and Community Development.

But a conservative, free-market group in Nashville is questioning the incentives that were offered to Amazon in order to lure the company to Nashville. 

"Nashville was passed over for Amazon's second (and third) headquarters, yet city and state officials still got scammed into giving the company more than $100 million in taxpayer giveaways for a consolation prize, which includes $80 million in cash handouts," said Mark Cunningham, spokesman for the Beacon Center in Nashville. "Amazon, one of the world's most valuable companies, and the government played taxpayers with this incentive deal, and it is time for us to speak up against this type of corporate welfare. While we welcome new businesses and the jobs they create to our state, forcing middle-class Tennesseans and small businesses to give their hard-earned dollars to a multi-billion dollar business is both unfair and immoral."

Amazon already has five fulfillment and sortation centers in Tennessee located in Charleston, Chattanooga, Lebanon, Murfreesboro and Nashville, as well as one Prime Now Hub in Nashville. From 2011 to 2017, Amazon invested more than $5 billion in Tennessee, including customer fulfillment infrastructure and compensation to its employees.

"Amazon has been a valued partner in Tennessee for a number of years and is currently home to six facilities across our state employing more than 6,500 Tennesseans," Tennesee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. "Today's announcement is a tremendous win for Nashville, Davidson County and Middle Tennessee."

Amazon's new Nashville facility will house the tech and management functions of Amazon's Retail Operations division, including customer fulfillment, customer service, transportation and supply chain operations.

"Amazon's decision to put 5,000 high-paying jobs right in the heart of Nashville further underscores our city's vibrancy and is a direct nod to our talented workforce and overall financial health," Nashville Mayor David Briley said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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