RESULTS RELEASED FOR HUNTSVILLE PUBLIC TRANSIT STUDY

After months of community input meetings, we now know the results of a city-wide public transit study. Huntsville City Council members were presented with the results of the study at Thursday’s meeting.

The two most requested changes by far were extended service during the weekdays and added Saturday service. In addition to those top recommendations, it was suggested the city cut transit shuttle service to south Huntsville, specifically south of Four Mile Post Road. The study showed that’s where ridership is low.

The plan is to reallocate that service to areas like University Drive where ridership is high and people are more likely to utilize the service.

Waaytv.com

Affordable Housing Crisis Reaches a Tipping Point in Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte has a housing problem.

The largest city in North Carolina, home to a growing financial sector, is short 34,000 affordable housing units to meet demand, according to a city report released in late 2016.

With those challenges in mind, Charlotte has embarked on a comprehensive approach to create more affordable housing. Last fall, the city more than tripled the amount of money it asked residents to approve in bond funding for the city’s housing trust fund.

Google’s $13B Expansion Boosted by Millions in Tax Incentives

Google’s plan to spend $13 billion on new and expanded offices and data centers around the U.S. this year is aided by state and local tax incentives worth at least tens of millions of dollars.

The California-based tech giant announced the broad strokes of its 2019 expansion plans Feb. 13, including “major expansions” in 14 states. Among these, the company plans to double the size of its Georgia and Virginia workforces, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post.

The projects could qualify for an abundance of tax credits and exemptions that Georgia, Virginia, and most other states offer for job creation and business capital investments. Some are meant to attract specific industries, such as tax breaks for new data center construction.

BloombergTax.com

Amazon And GE Cutbacks Are A Lesson For Cities Offering Big Incentives

Two of the world’s biggest companies have cut back on major promises this week — Amazon and GE. It’s a tale of tax incentives and two corporate headquarters.

Amazon bailed on New York City after fierce local opposition to the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives it was offered to bring its second headquarters there.

General Electric has scaled back its plans for a Boston headquarters and will pay back the state the $87 million it got in incentives to bring the company to Boston.

Local business leaders and officials say GE and Amazon offer important lessons for Boston.

“What a wild back-to-back with two of the largest company in the world. Amazing,” said Jeff Bussgang, a general partner at Flybridge Capital, shortly after the two companies announced the changes Thursday.

Wbur.org

Opinion: Taxpayers are right to question incentives for economic development — and not just for Amazon

New York offered Amazon close to $3 billion to build a “second” headquarters in Long Island City on the promise of 25,000 jobs.

Since the deal was joyfully announced in November, however, many local residents and some politicians in the area have been questioning whether it’s worth it, both in terms of the price tag and the impact on housing and traffic congestion. And on Feb. 14, AmazonAMZN, +0.39%   backed out of the deal, citing political opposition to its plans.

The researchsupports those who question the wisdom of cities and states incentivizing economic development. Studies suggest the jobs and economic gains are usually not worth the tax breaks since the majority of companies would have come even without incentives.

And that’s when the companies try to live up to the promises they made. They don’t always do so, with the latest example being Foxconn’s announcement that it is reconsidering plans to build a factory in Wisconsin — less than a year after agreeing to create up to 13,000 high-tech jobs in exchange for more than $4.5 billion in incentives.

But how often do companies that agree to build factories and create jobs in exchange for economic incentives back away from their promises? And when they do, do taxpayers ever learn about it?

Marketwatch.com

Austin Might Get a Bit of HQ2 After All

Amazon announced it is backing out of its plan to build half of its much-hyped second headquarters in New York City.

While that’s likely causing headaches for real estate investors and economic development officials out east, several other cities are poised to absorb the 25K jobs that the e-commerce giant had projected to create in New York.

We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time,” Amazon wrote in a blog post. “We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.

It’s not immediately clear how many of the projected 25K HQ2 jobs might be distributed to Amazon’s Austin offices. And that job creation is slated to happen over the course of roughly 15 years.

AmericanInno.com

Jeff Bezos’ gut failed him. His will didn’t.

Jeff Bezos’ gut failed him in Amazon’s aborted New York expedition. But make no mistake—he has guts.

In the months leading up to the decision on where to locate Amazon’s HQ2, Bezos would make the decision with intuition. “All of my best decisions in business and in life have been made with heart, intuition, guts . . . not analysis,” he said before his life became tabloid fodder.

When he chose New York and Washington, D.C., as the second (and third) homes where Amazon would add as many as 50,000 jobs in the next 10 to 15 years, the decision confirmed what many people had expected. It was a puzzler to me. I thought Bezos made the safe choice, opting for the two largest pools of tech talent outside San Francisco that also are the most expensive and competitive, to say nothing of the structural challenges involved.

The decision was decidedly un-Jeff Bezos and more like LeBron James, with the same disastrous optics. Those picks could have been made without a year-long beauty contest that Amazon constantly billed as a data-driven effort to find the best option but which came off looking like a vanity project gone horribly wrong. They weren’t the types of choices that made Bezos the world’s richest man by being a maverick who zigs when everyone else zags.

ChicagoBusiness.com

Thinly sliced: Gov. Cuomo decries loss of Amazon HQ2, while workers’ union says good riddance

HQ2TK. Amazon on Thursday announced that it would withdraw plans to open a planned headquarters in New York City, citing intense local opposition. “A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward,’’ Amazon said in a statement, first reported by The New York Times. The headquarters had become a local flashpoint, spurring a national discussion about the role of government subsidies, the importance of transparency, and the impact trillion-dollar tech companies can have on rents and local businesses.

TheNewFoodEconomy.com

How Amazon’s HQ2 Exit Just Threw a Wrench in the Plans of New York’s Small Businesses

Amazon said Thursday it was scrapping its plans to build a new corporate campus in Queens, New York, following a wave of opposition spearheaded by local politicians. But not everyone in the borough is happy to see Amazon go.

After a several months-long tour of the country in search of a new headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” Amazon in November chose two sites, opting in the end to split its operations between New York City and Crystal City in Northern Virginia. Amazon said the location in New York, along Long Island City’s waterfront, would create at least 25,000 high-paying jobs over the course of the next 10 years.

Inc.com

‘Stupidest damn thing’ to blow HQ2 deal in New York, JBG Smith board chairman says

Steven Roth is chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO), a New York City-based developer and landlord. He is also chairman of the Chevy Chase-based JBG Smith Properties’ board of directors. Needless to say, he’s got a lot riding on Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, to be split, as of now, between Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City, where JBG Smith is the dominant landlord. On Tuesday during Vornado’s fourth quarter 2018 earnings call, Roth was asked about the strong, vocal opposition to New York’s proposed $3 billion HQ2 incentive package, and the report that Amazon may be rethinking Long Island City for HQ2. Washington Business Journal