First, there was the Amazon headquarters and its 40,000 employees who were supposedly going to New Orleans – and if anyone believed that they were smoking something.
Then, there was the Amazon distribution facility Louisiana was supposed to be getting, courtesy of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ imagination as announced on his monthly radio show yesterday…
Amazon is planning to build a new regional distribution center somewhere in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on his monthly “Ask the Governor” call-in show on WRKF Wednesday afternoon.
The governor had few details about the announcement and would not disclose where the new facility will be.
Few details? Nah – there are plenty of those details. They just don’t add up to what Edwards was advertising…
Gov. John Bel Edwards says he misspoke Wednesday, when he said on his monthly radio show, “Ask the Governor,” that Louisiana has landed a regional Amazon distribution center.
In a written statement this afternoon, Edwards says, “In fielding a call from a listener on my radio show this week concerning a possible distribution project in Louisiana, I spoke from memory regarding such a project. While Louisiana has had discussions with Amazon about this project there is presently not a definitive project in the works for the company.”
Baton Rouge developer Richard Preis told Daily Report this morning he was contacted by a site selection consultant in 2016 about a possible location for such a facility, which he later learned was Amazon.
Preis says the company wanted a site that was at least 300 acres and was five minutes from the airport. The consultants were interested in Preis’ mixed-use development, Howell Place, in north Baton Rouge, but it didn’t have enough available land.
Preis also showed them other locations but says the deal ultimately fell through. He says he later learned that Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama, were among the 20 or so other cities Amazon was mulling for the facility, and that Baton Rouge lost out because of its inadequate infrastructure, poor education system and relatively small airport.
Here’s a good rule for the reader – if John Bel Edwards or any of the other political animals roaming the wilderness of the state’s economic landscape start touting an economic development win having to do with ports, warehouses, distribution or transportation of any kind, please ridicule them into hiding.
None of that is going to happen while Louisiana has its punitive inventory tax and the nation’s highest sales taxes. And none of it is going to happen with the uncompetitive corporate income tax structure Louisiana has, despite the burblings you may hear about all of the tax breaks for fatcats in the state’s tax code.
And attempts to raise the state’s gas tax really, really don’t help you bring in distribution centers which involve 18-wheelers driving in and out carrying items to go in those warehouses. Maybe if the gas tax did go up and magically THIS TIME it resulted in improvements to the state’s pitiful highway infrastructure you could have distribution centers coming into Louisiana at some time in the future. Not before then, believe us.
Oh, and when there’s a governor who keeps talking about raising the state’s minimum wage you will absolutely not have any major companies siting distribution/warehousing facilities in Louisiana. Those jobs might not be minimum wage jobs, but they’re jobs with low enough wages as to be affected by the minimum wage. Taxes, fuel costs and labor are the three main factors in running a distribution/logistics/warehouse facility, and John Bel Edwards has nothing positive to offer on any of those three.
So no, Louisiana wasn’t ever getting an Amazon distribution facility. But Texas or Mississippi might. Does that count?