In 2018, Amazon started to look for places to establish a second headquarters while Boeing showcased new jets, both military and commercial. What do the two, as well as Starbucks, have in common? They’re all based in Seattle!
What would make these three enormous corporations, as well as Nordstrom, Microsoft, Expedia, Costco and even Alaska Airlines, flourish and thrive in Seattle? While Seattle is a big city, it’s nowhere near (in terms of population) Los Angeles or New York City or Chicago. So what would attract big corporations to Seattle, the biggest city on the Northwestern tip of the Continental United States?
The answer is tax breaks. In June 2018, the City of Seattle repealed a tax that ‘upset’ Amazon. Not to mention that Washington just announced a statewide tax credit. It certainly helps that Washington state is ranked #17 among states in tax competitiveness.
So what else, besides all that? Well, the docks, for one. The docks help companies trying to expand into another nearby nation, like Canada. Seattle also has a world-class airport, which probably helps Seattle start-ups like Alaska Airlines. Just think about it; doesn’t having Seattle as an airport hub give you more options than having Anchorage as a hub?
Among all of the above, of course, the most important is tax breaks. The journey to find the second HQ for Amazon turned into a competition that focused on how much could they offer in tax breaks. That’s also why Delaware is full of the upper-class: tax breaks.
Of course, these businesses have also helped Seattle. For example, because of Starbucks, now Seattle is known for coffee. Not to mention, the unflagging economic prosperity these corporations bring to Seattle is great for the city. But at what cost?
In August 2018, experts advised residents about the pollution and told them to expect smoky skies. The City Government told residents the air of Seattle is a health risk. Also, according to the National Geographic, Seattle’s air is as dirty as some of the most polluted cities in Asia. In fact, according to Berkeley Earth, Seattle’s pollution is equivalent to smoking nine cigarettes per day and and according to the EPA, Seattle’s air is ”worse than the air in Beijing”. So what causes this immense pollution?
The reason for the severe pollution is wildfires that rage in Washington state and the cars’ exhaust. Of course, it doesn’t help that Amazon needs to make deliveries and that Starbucks needs to resupply it’s 142 Starbucks coffee shops. Not to mention Costco also needs to resupply its colossal warehouses, and that Alaska Airlines needs to base its entire fleet in Seattle.
All in all, after decades of tax competitiveness attracting major corporations enough to stay in Seattle, the city’s residents have started to see the consequences of keeping corporations in the Emerald City.