It would be fantastic if Minneapolis could land the Amazon HQ, but we have to want it. The biggest incentive “package” is from Newark, N.J., which is offering $7 billion, and the firstborn male child for bondage or sacrifice, whichever the company prefers.
What is Minnesota offering?
Free use of Craigslist to find office space. Oh, and Bob down at City Hall will shoot you the number for U-Haul right away. OK, maybe after lunch, he’s just snowed today.
But what Amazon wants is this:
• Billions of dollars in subsidies, delivered to the office by the mayor wearing a leprechaun costume and dragging a pot of gold, smiling for the cameras, flush with humiliation.
• The winning town renamed Bezosia, after the company founder.
• Alexa installed on every street corner so you can bark out an order for paper towels while waiting for the light.
• Conscription of 40 percent of city’s residents to work in the enormous Cardboard Box Production Facility.
• An agreement that would allow Amazon employees to follow residents around all day and make product suggestions based on their browser history. “I see you recently purchased a 12-cup automatic coffeemaker. Let me show you an ad for a 12-cup automatic coffeemaker.”
Of course, bagging Amazon and adding 50,000 people to downtown would be a boon. You can only imagine the number of businesses that would open up — so they could be shut down later by their inability to compete with Amazon.
Maybe they’d be able to adapt and offer things Amazon couldn’t. Like …
Hold on, I’ll think of something.
No, actually, I can’t.
I get e-mails from Amazon telling me they can deliver Indian food to my door, and they can send someone to clean my dryer vent. This is like going through the drive-through at McDonald’s and the voice on the intercom says, “Would you like to add roof shingles or a bone density test for $1.99?”
Having Amazon would be a great boost for the Twin Cities, though, and you wish our obvious advantages were enough.
But no, we have to compete with cities like Newark, which is offering $7 billion in breaks as a way of saying, “Yeah, we know, we’re Newark.”
Let’s skip the shiny presentations and big press conferences with lavish promises. Let’s show Amazon we understand who they are: Put the proposal in a cardboard box, leave it at their front door. Ring the bell and run.