Feds have major stake in Amazon HQ2 hunt

If Amazon picks their city as the cite of its new east-of-the-Mississippi HQ2 operation, federal workers will be big-time winners, too. The prospect of 50,000 new, many of them six-figure salary, jobs has all of the 20-candidate locations salivating.

More jobs, more taxes. A win-win for the chosen city, except maybe in rush hour.

Why would feds be winners, too? Feds in many cities — including most of the 20 on the Amazon HQ2 short list — already get locality pay. It is based on regular salary adjustments plus an extra amount based on the going rate for similar jobs in the private sector. Amazon’s presence would almost certainly guarantee larger locality adjustments each year, in addition to the regular January across-the-board pay raise.

So if Amazon picks your city, you are probably a financial winner, even if you don’t defect and leave your federal job.

The current list includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Newark, New Jersey; New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto and Washington, D.C.

So what are the odds, and who’s going to get lucky? The area must have a good transit system, an international airport, a labor supply of smart people, and must really, really want — can you say tax breaks — to win Amazon’s heart.

The Washington metro region is on a lot of people’s short lists. It has Washington-Dulles and Baltimore-Washington international airports, as well as Reagan National Airport, while Amazon owner Jeff Bezos has — as you might expect — a very nice house in the city. It is near both the Obamas and the Clintons, if you just want to hang out on a Saturday night.

D.C. has one of the smartest labor forces in the nation, thanks to the NIH, NASA, the CIA, Treasury, Department of Energy and the beat goes on. If Amazon does pick this area it is possible that a number of top-in-the-field feds might be lured away with the promise of bigger bucks, and less red tape and bureaucracy.

Some cities would seem to be out of the running because of geography, including Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Indianapolis and Pittsbugh. And then there is Newark — seriously? And isn’t Toronto, like, in a different country? Canada or something?

Amazon is supposed to announce a new, shorter, short list shortly. It’s anybody’s to win or lose. But with three bites at the Amazon apple, the D.C. region has got to be a contender.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has a gargoyle on its northwest tower resembling Darth Vader. It was chosen in a children’s design-a-carving competition in the 1980s.

Source: National Cathedral

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