Amazon is not in the business of saving your hometown.

Amazon could have transformed a city. It could have created 50,000 high-paying jobs in a place with higher-than-average unemployment. It could have become the largest employer in a midsize city, or the central player in a new regional tech hub. 

But the company that has radically transformed the retail industry has never shown much appetite for remolding cities. 

A demonstration in front of Amazon in Seattle in April.
A demonstration in front of Amazon in Seattle in April. © CreditLindsey Wasson/Reuters - Protesters called for a tax on the city’s largest companies to help pay for homeless services. The tax passed, but Amazon fought the measure, and the Seattle City Council repealed it. 

... in New York and Washington, Amazon will find not only all the assets a tech company requires, but also some reprieve from the attention its status as the behemoth tech employer within Seattle has given it. In its hometown, Amazon now occupies fully one-fifth of all prime office space.

In announcing the decision on Tuesday, Amazon’s C.E.O., Jeff Bezos, mentioned the company’s desire to “become an even bigger part of these communities.” But that role in New York and Washington will be relatively smaller than if the company had chosen a different kind of home.

In Northern Virginia and environs, even as Amazon grows to 25,000 jobs, the primary industries will long remain government services and defense contracting. In New York, Amazon isn’t even the only big tech company announcing a major expansion in the past week; Google plans to swell in size there, too — albeit in Manhattan rather than Queens.

The ratings agency Fitch shrugged on Tuesday at what it considered the “muted impact” on the economies and credit ratings of New York and Washington.

According to Fitch, 25,000 jobs are the equivalent of about a quarter of a percentage point of all the jobs in metro New York. In metro Washington, they’d represent about three-quarters of a percentage point of the labor force. The Washington region is already growing by about 50,000 jobs, or an Amazon HQ2, each year, according to the D.C. Policy Center. New York over the past year gained about 70,000 jobs.

In contrast, a 50,000-person second headquarters, as Amazon originally proposed, would have amounted to about 5 percent of all jobs in several finalist regions: Columbus, Ohio; Nashville; and Indianapolis. 

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