THE COSTS OF JOBS: Amazon collects tens of millions in incentives, but jobs progress is unclear

THE COSTS OF JOBS: Amazon collects tens of millions in incentives, but jobs progress is unclear

September 17th, 2017 by Mike Reicher in Local Regional News

Workers unpack items shipped from affiliates to the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Enterprise South Industrial Park on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Amazon held nationwide job fairs Wednesday to fill 50,000 positions as the company sees a surge in growth.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Related Article

THE COSTS OF JOBS: Are job subsidies a success? Secrecy makes it hard to know

Read more

Amazon, the online retail giant, is adept at maximizing tax breaks and other subsidies when it develops or expands facilities across the country, and its Tennessee properties are no exception.

The company was awarded $30 million in property tax breaks from three counties for up to 20 years, and $14.9 million in state grants for infrastructure or job training at its five Tennessee distribution facilities, state records show.

But it's unclear if the company fulfilled its promises to create thousands of jobs in exchange for those incentives.

As of December, Amazon's reporting of data to the state showed it's short of job commitments in three of the five facilities. The company still has one to three years, depending on the facility, to create the new jobs it promised.

In Wilson County, where it was awarded a $3.3 million tax break to create 800 jobs at a fulfillment center, county officials said they don't know if Amazon delivered.

Related Article

THE COSTS OF JOBS: What's the difference between a grant, a subsidy and a tax credit?

Read more

The director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Wilson County said the agency has no staff and other pressing issues besides tracking jobs. The county's policy requires monitoring.

A company representative said Amazon employs 5,500 full-time employees in the state, with health insurance and other benefits.

Some criticize officials for giving Amazon subsidies because the company would need to build distribution facilities in Tennessee to serve its growing customer base, whether or not it received incentives.

Related Article

THE COSTS OF JOBS: TVA keeps its economic development incentives secret

Read more