The Impact of Big Business on City Infrastructure: the Case of Amazon

The question of whether large businesses should be encouraged to expand within a city or solicited to relocate there is often a hot-button issue. It raises questions about the positive or negative impacts it will have on local infrastructure and economy. Let’s explore the issue from the context of Amazon’s growth in Seattle, as well as regarding the recent announcement that it will divide its new HQ2 and an estimated 50,000 new jobs among Long Island City, located in Queens, NY and Crystal City, Virginia (National Landing), located near Washington DC.

A city’s infrastructure includes the fundamental facilities and services necessary for its economy to function. Typical infrastructure items include water supply, sewers, electrical grid, and telecommunications. They also encompass transportation improvements such as roads, bridges, and tunnels. The availability of a good infrastructure can be an important bargaining chip for cities looking to entice a major enterprise to locate there.

At the same time, the 

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