On Thursday, Amazon.com’s vice president told South Carolina legislators the company will not move into its proposed distribution center in Lexington County after the House overwhelmingly rejected a tax package it wanted.
The company said it canceled procurement contracts and removed job postings for the facility from its website.
Gov. Nikki Haley said she would be disappointed if Amazon left, but said it was seeking an unfair tax break.
We don’t want to be known as the state that’s desperate to grab anybody and anything at the sake of the rest of our businesses. I will tell you, regardless of what happens with Amazon, we want them. I have told them we want you…but we want you to do it on a level playing field.
Some legislators seemed resigned to Amazon’s fate. Sen. Nikki Setzler directed his comments to visiting Amazon executives watching the proceedings in the Senate gallery, saying, “We hope we can deliver for you one day.”
Rep. Dan Cooper (R-Anderson) was involved in negotiations with the company before the deal became public. He said he was pinning his hopes on a similar bill in the Senate. However, he admitted there is little chance of it passing the House.
We still have some other chances… I think it’s going to be tough sledding to try to get it done in the House, based on the vote (Wednesday).
But some lawmakers still think the company is bluffing. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-York) says Amazon has already put too much into construction at the site.
If it’s not a bluff, it’s a bad decision on their part. They don’t just enter into lease agreements to build buildings without firm commitments…This (facility) was built for Amazon…If it’s not (finished), then Amazon ought to be either getting on the lawyers who wrote the agreement or the officials that made the investment prior to having this.
Norman said if the breaks were as important as Amazon claims, the company would not have made the agreement until after the legislature approved the tax exemption.
The issue is whether or not Amazon should be required to collect sales taxes on goods it sells in South Carolina. The company wanted to be exempted from the law, which other businesses called an unfair edge.
Legislators gave a similar deal to a Florence distribution facility in 2006. That tax break expired last year, but some legislators wanted to renew it for Amazon.