Thirsty for Seattle businesses, Phoenix uses head tax as recruiting tool

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PhoenixPhoenix
Metro Phoenix is home to 4.7 million people. (Photo via Shutterstock).

Phoenix is coming on strong.

The Arizona city’s office of economic development has been hitting up Seattle companies with the promise of a “pro-business environment,” betting those businesses will want to escape a controversial new “head tax.”

Phoenix officials are circulating a KING 5 video, in which the city’s economic development chief Chris Camacho makes his pitch, according to an email shared with GeekWire.

“Seattle’s uncertain operating costs and tax increases are causing businesses to evaluate other markets like Greater Phoenix,” the email says.

When it comes to courting Seattle companies on the rebound, Arizona cities aren’t shy. Tuscon sent Jeff Bezos a 21-foot-tall cactus in an attempt to attract Amazon’s second headquarters. Amazon spurned the advance.

But Phoenix seems to see Seattle’s new head tax as a chance to get with one of Amazon’s less choosy siblings. The legislation that has Phoenix all hot to trot will levy a tax of 14 cents per hour worked, per employee at Seattle companies making more than $20 million a year. Revenue generated by the tax will go toward affordable housing and homeless services.

The tax’s future is uncertain because of a campaign launched by a coalition of businesses to put a referendum on the November ballot, giving voters the opportunity to overturn the controversial legislation. Amazon, Paul Allen’s Vulcan, and Starbucks have all contributed to the campaign.



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