NH Should Not Offer Incentives to Amazon

CONCORD — Under no circumstances should state officials offer special economic development incentives to try to land Amazon’s newly announced second headquarters (HQ2), Andrew Cline, interim president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, cautioned today. Granite Staters would fare better in the long run if the government focused instead on improving New Hampshire’s overall economic climate.

“Rather than join other states in a contest to see who can give the most taxpayer money to the world’s third-largest retailer, run by one of the three richest men on the planet, state officials should continue focusing on making New Hampshire a better place to live, work and do business for all,” Cline said.

“Amazon is an impressive company whose location here would be welcome,” Cline added. “Reaching out and talking up New Hampshire’s many charms is perfectly fine. But we should never cross the line between marketing the state and giving a big company special treatment that New Hampshire’s mom-and-pop businesses don’t get.”

Last Friday, the Democratic Party leadership in the state Legislature wrote to Gov. Chris Sununu to urge him to pursue Amazon’s second headquarters. “We know there is nothing either Connecticut or Utah can offer that we cannot,” they wrote.

In fact, both Utah and Connecticut offer financial incentives in the form of grants and state tax breaks that New Hampshire does not. Connecticut even offers business loans. Luring big businesses by giving them special tax breaks is not the New Hampshire way.

In its HQ2 request for proposals, Amazon expressed a strong desire for financial incentives that New Hampshire does not offer. “Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process,” the RFP states.

New Hampshire must never start playing the incentives game. Granite Staters will be better served if the state stays focused on policies that help all businesses — small, medium and large — instead of giving special treatment to the biggest companies.