CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Raleigh is in and Charlotte is out when it comes to landing Amazon's second headquarters, but a government business watchdog group says Charlotte came out the winner.
"I think the 'losers' and I put that word in quotes could actually end up being the winners in this case," said Greg LeRoy with the Washington D.C.-based non-profit, non-partisan, research group Good Jobs First.
LeRoy studies economic development incentives and thinks Amazon HQ2 not coming to the Queen City is actually a good thing.
"If they're not paying income, property or sales tax," said LeRoy. "Guess who gets to pay for all the growth that will be induced by their arrival?"
Charlotte officials laid out the red carpet to attract Amazon's new headquarters. With the promise of $5 billion in economic development and 50,000 jobs paying up to $100,000, city officials produced a slick commercial and created the #CLTisPrime hashtag while offering up potentially billions of dollars in secret tax breaks and land giveaways.
Back in October, FOX 46 asked for the total amount of incentives taxpayers could be on the hook for but our request was denied. Officials told us that information is "private and confidential" and could put the city at a "competitive disadvantage."
With Charlotte out of the running, LeRoy says that bid should now be made public.
"We as taxpayers, represented by public officials, are in a prisoner's dilemma," said LeRoy, in a Skype interview. "We're not supposed to know anything about other competing bids. We're not supposed to ask questions. We're just supposed to put as much money on the table as we can, cross our fingers and hope it all works out."
"It's a recipe for overspending," he added.
LeRoy says based on studies it is likely most of the workforce would come from outside of the metro area. An influx of 50,000 high paid workers could drive up home prices, LeRoy said.
"And that means not only are the benefits not going to accrue to the existing taxpayers," he said. "But it also means you're going to hire more teachers and build more classrooms and pick up more trash. All those things are not free."
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Charlotte Chamber of Commerce officials, in a statement, say they "put our best foot forward" and "are proud of the proposal we made."
FOX 46 will keep pushing for to see that proposal and for transparency when it comes to your money.