An American city is offering to rename itself “Amazon” to tempt Jeff Bezos in

When I first wrote this article, outlining just how low America’s local lawmakers would go to try and tempt Amazon to set up shop in their city, I thought we’d hit rock bottom. Turns out we still had some way to go. 

According to local media, the city council of Stonecrest, Georgia passed a motion on Monday night by four votes to two. The motion means that if Amazon sets up its HQ2 in Stonecrest, the city will be renamed “Amazon.” I assume this is the same kind of pop-culture mindset that has seen the name Khaleesi rise in the baby name popularity charts. 

“There are several major US cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company,” said the city’s mayor, Jason Lary. Well no, that’s true. Tax credits, yes. Fee reductions, yes. Relocation grants, yes. But this kind of pitifully desperate squeal for attention masquerading as “marketing opportunity”: no, not yet. 

The deadline for applications closes on 19 October. Let’s hope 4 October marks the low point.

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It’s funny how quickly politicians can forget about their qualms with Amazon’s business model when it’s expedient to do so. Yesterday, the ecommerce giant announced that it was looking for a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, and now local politicians across America are tripping over each other in an unedifying bid to woo a company that has been criticised by such politicians for crushing worker’s rights, smothering business opponents and destroying the high street of their towns.

“We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs,” Amazon wrote. “In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”amazon_hq_stats

“We will aggressively demonstrate that Dallas and our surrounding area would be the perfect spot for their expansive business needs,” Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings told CNN Tech. “Amazon already has an extensive amount of business here. They’ve been good corporate citizens and we look forward to future conversations.” 

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Not to be outdone, here’s Chicago’s mayoral spokesperson Grant Klinzman providing some hot air on behalf of the windy city: “Chicago’s unmatched workforce, world-class universities and unparalleled access to destinations throughout the world make it the perfect headquarters location for companies large and small,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Who’s that waving at the back? Why, it’s Pittsburgh mayor William Peduto with a statement to CNN: “With an unmatched portfolio of technological talent and intriguing development parcels, Pittsburgh is uniquely positioned to submit a winning bid for Amazon’s facility.”

But the winner for the most brazenly sycophantic pitch has to be this, from Philadelphia’s Jim Kenney:

I love a pun, but this is too much – and not just because of the capitalisation.

I could go on. Other places weighing up a bid with varying degrees of unedifying eagerness includes Memphis, Tulsa, Rhode Island, Hartford, St Louis, Washington and Toronto.

Of course, there can only be one. You can only speculate as to what kind of special treatment Amazon will be offered by host cities desperate for the Bezos train to pull into town.

Once the dust has settled and construction is under way, perhaps we can discuss how worrying this is. Certain areas of government have become worryingly subservient to internet businesses that Amazon just has to put up a statement musing on expansion to trigger a bidding war from elected officials eager to please.

If there was ever any doubt that internet businesses are challenging the power of governments, just think about the spectacle we’re seeing at the moment. See also: Facebook.

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