I have been following the story on this blog of how Glendale, Arizona has been throwing wads of taxpayer money at the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team and at any rich person who might be willing to buy the team. The city of 225,000 citizens spent nearly $200 million on a stadium, promised to hand a buyer of the team $100 million to help with the purchase, plus hand the new buyer a stadium contract worth about $100 million over five years. While this all plays out, Glendale paid the NHL $25 million last year to help cover the team's losses and has agreed to pay another $25 million this year.
Wow. This is just amazing, written all in one place. But its not just hockey that the small corporate-state suburb on Phoenix wants to subsidize. Here is the latest recipient of largess:
Bechtel Corp., one of Glendale's largest employers, has agreed to stay until 2018 after city officials offered the company about $1 million in incentives.
By next year, the global engineering and construction company, with the city's financial help, will move from north Glendale to a new, vacant building not far from the city's sports district called the Glendale Corporate Center....
Under the agreement, Glendale would give $576,000 over the next two years to Bechtel for its costs to outfit the building shell for offices.
The incentive package also includes a waiver of $50,000 in city permit fees and a job-retention incentive of $1,250 per employee, up to $400,000. Each eligible employee must earn a salary of at least $50,000 per year.
Glendale offered a sports perk as well.
Bechtel can use the city's suites, both at Camelback Ranch Glendale and Jobing.com Arena, for free twice.
LOL, Jobing.com arena is the hockey rink the city built, so it is giving tickets from its subsidized hockey club to its subsidized engineering firm. The article includes the usual consultant figures who reliably take money from cities to report on all the indirect benefits and revenues and economic activity that result from their subsidies.
However, these are not the first subsidies paid to Bechtel by Glendale
The corporation first came to Glendale in 2002. Bechtel moved to Talavi Corporate Center from Phoenix after Glendale promised $1 million in incentives. The staff at the time was expected to grow to 500 from 300.
Bechtel's staffing is only at 320 today, not 500, but this failure to actually grow jobs after getting subsidies for job growth is pretty typical of these deals. My interpretation of this is that this is yet another move to get more tenants around its sports complex, to raise the stakes and apparent costs if the hockey team moves. Glendale will cry that they can't lost the hockey team, think of all the tenants in the surrounding real estate, when it was the city itself that spent money to put all its eggs in this one basket.
The only funny part of the article is the Talavi real estate folks. They were thrilled to gain a new tenant in 2002 due to the city's relocation subsidies, but now suddenly think such subsidies are unfair.
Bechtel's landlords at Talavi aren't happy about the move.
"We were actually a little surprised to hear Glendale was offering incentives," said Damon Elder, spokesman for Daymark Realty Advisers, which was negotiating a lease extension with Bechtel for Talavi's owners.
"We would think the city would be fair-minded with all of their corporate citizens. . . . I don't know why the city would be pitting one location against another."
For those of us who simply think of ourselves as residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area, or even broader just as Americans, we are surprised about the earlier subsidy as well, wondering why taxpayers of a small suburb are paying big bucks to move businesses back and forth a few miles across the town line.
But of course, this is not the worst example. A few years ago, Phoenix tried to spend $100 million in subsidies to move a Nordstrom and a Bloomingdales one mile and one freeway exit (out of Scottsdale).
By the way, Glendale's economic development director has made it official, we live in a corporate state:
"[government relocation incentives are] just a modern, Fortune 100 corporate expectation," Friedman said. "If you have a top-notch, world-class company in your community, your absolute goal should be to make sure they are successful and are content in your community and want to remain."