A Koch brother-linked group is trying to convince millennials to turn on Amazon’s HQ2 project — and it’s not alone

  • Generation Opportunity is putting out ads in an effort to mobilize opposition to giving Amazon tax breaks for HQ2, according to Axios.
  • The group is right-leaning and has links to Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the Koch brothers.
  • This voice joins a growing chorus of groups trying to convince cities not to offer Amazon incentives.

Not everyone is happy for Amazon to come to town.

The right-leaning group Generation Opportunity has started running ads in opposition to giving Amazon tax incentives for its $5 billion second headquarters project, according to a press release. The organization has links to Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.

The digital ads, which will run on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, will be targeted mostly to 18-38 year-olds who may support the cause.

The ads call for voters to oppose the “sweetheart deals” that give Amazon tax incentives to build a new headquarters, which the ads say are “unfair to taxpayers.” Amazon has said it plans to bring 50,000 jobs to the city it chooses for HQ2 and a total of $5 billion in investments in the local economy over a decade.

“Amazon is one of the largest, most successful corporations in the world – it doesn’t need help from struggling taxpayers to build its second headquarters,” Generation Opporunity policy director David Barnes said in a statement. “Unfair corporate welfare deals like the ones being lobbed at Amazon fuel cronyism, are conducted in darkness, and force small businesses to subsidize their competition.”

The ads will be geographically targeted, so those who don’t live in or near one of the 20 cities on Amazon’s short list will likely never see them. The ads starting running on February 21, and will last through the week. GO did not disclose the budget for the ads.

Amazon has said explicitly that financial incentives will be one of the biggest factors it considers in making its decision for where to place its new headquarters. Not everyone is a fan of that – a group of economists has called on mayors and civic leaders to band together and agree not to offer Amazon any form of incentives for the project.

A study by economists from the Economics Policy Institute even found that when the company courts tax incentives to build new fulfillment centers, those warehouses don’t always provide the additional jobs that they had promised to the local economy.

Proposals that have been released to the public have shown hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives offered for the company to move to their neck of the woods. It remains likely that whoever does win HQ2 will have an incentive package built in.

Most people do support Amazon coming to their neck of the woods.

In a recent survey by our partner MSN, 67% of 714,000 respondents answered “yes” to the question: “Would you want Amazon to build a campus in your city?”

But that number went down by six points, to 61%, when people were asked if they would support incentives to make that happen.

You can watch Generation Opportunity’s full ad here: