BUSINESS Amazon to become biggest impact investor ever


Amazon to become biggest impact investor ever

Reuters Staff | Reuters

06:05, November 17, 2017


Amazon President, Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the Business Insider's "Ignition Future of Digital" conference in New York City December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Since June, when agreed to buy Whole Foods Market, Kroger, the largest publicly traded U.S. supermarket chain, has seen nearly $8 billion of its market value disappear. That is a testament to the Shiva-like force the e-commerce pioneer led by Jeff Bezos can unleash, threatening to destroy swaths of the retail landscape and many of its jobs.

But here’s another figure to consider. Over the past 10 calendar years, as Amazon grew from $15 billion in revenue to almost $100 billion, it paid just two-thirds of the taxes that Kroger did. The supermarket chain doled out $7.2 billion to federal, state and local governments compared to Amazon’s $4.5 billion, according to annual reports.

That could be one foundation for public and government resentment against the $550 billion e-commerce giant. But Bezos’ search for a second headquarters for Amazon gives the company a chance to forestall that kind of backlash by setting up – and investing heavily – where it’s needed most.

The company’s request for proposals for a second North American head office, in which it expects to invest $5 billion and to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs, is one route to some kind of redemption. Amazon received 238 proposals from 54 states, provinces, districts and territories by the Oct. 19 deadline. It says its final choice will come in 2018, kicking off with a $600 million project to create 1 million square feet of office space.

No matter who wins, the competition has already had a beneficial impact. It has forced municipal and state leaders, local development agencies, businesses and nonprofits to work together, assess their strengths and weaknesses, take a fresh look at infrastructure and pool their resources. Even though only one city will win Amazon’s office park, they should all now be better able entice other enterprises.

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