Portland And Vancouver Join Bidding Frenzy For Amazon's 'second Headquarters' Loading... >Portland can do better than to chase Amazon (Guest opinion) Posted September 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM IAmazon announced earlier this month that it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening.IAmazon announced earlier this month that it has opened the search for a second headquarters, promising to spend more than $5 billion on the opening.(Richard Drew/AP) By Guest Columnist Loading... BY JULIA DeGRAW Portland should step back from the "bidding frenzy" for Amazon's headquarters ("Portland and Vancouver join bidding frenzy for Amazon's 'second headquarters,' Sept. 7). We can do much better by investing our public funds in less risky ways, with proven results for a much wider swath of local residents. Amazon is dangling a jobs fantasy in front of city officials in return for big up-front public subsidies, which the company suggests may require the state to pass "special incentive legislation" - all without any guarantees on the number of jobs, wage levels or timelines. "Pretty brazen" is the description used in the New York Times by Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has researched the more than $750 million in public subsidies provided to Amazon in the past 10 years. In addition, Amazon has lost numerous personal and class-action lawsuits for its exploitative and brutal work practices, and it has been aggressively anti-union. Eminent economic development economist, Timothy Bartik, has shown that only one in five new jobs created in this manner go to local residents. Newcomers fill the other four. Bidding wars cost localities more tax revenue than they gain, given the need for more funding for strained schools, transportation, roads and other public services on top of tax giveaways. The benefits are concentrated especially on a few developers with disproportionate influence at City Hall. Skyrocketing housing costs and terrible traffic are the reasons that Seattle residents are not eager for Amazon to expand at home. A far less risky and more effective local economic development strategy is investment in universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds, the majority of whom stay or return to their hometowns as adults. According to Portland State University economist Mary King, early childhood education creates a public return as high or higher than the rest of the best economic development tools, and does a much better job of reducing income inequality and poverty. Universal preschool starts to pay off right away. Parents are able to work more hours, and benefits grow over time as kids do better in school, graduate in bigger numbers, earn more and avoid crime, unemployment and substance abuse - all of which is good for public budgets and our community. Oregon already has the lowest business taxes in the country. As a result, our schools and universities have struggled for nearly a generation. We should be investing in ourselves and our region by improving our schools, our air and our infrastructure, as well as our support for local employment and housing projects. This is a far more reliable recipe for economic development, which benefits the community as a whole. And it won't leave us at the mercy of the fortunes and whims of a single, ruthless, megacorporation, ready to pick up and move at a moment's notice - taking our tax dollars with it. Julia DeGraw is a candidate for Portland City Council Position 2. She lives in Southeast Portland.