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Amazon's mega Mississippi project

On Jan. 25, the state of Mississippi announced that Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) — the cloud computing arm of Amazon — is investing $10 billion to build two giant data centers in Madison County.

The project is the largest economic development project in Mississippi’s entire history and is expected to create at least 1,000 “high-paying, high-tech” jobs by 2034.

When signing legislation to finalize the record-shattering project on Jan. 30, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said: “This $10 billion private sector investment is proof that Mississippi can compete against the fiercest competition in economic development and win. It really is an awesome day for our entire state, and I’m so proud we could get this project done.”

But it’s how the state was able to secure the project that’s got Maddie and others riled up.

Lawmakers lured the tech giant in with a 10-year corporate income tax exemption, a 3.15% rebate on construction costs and rolling state tax exemptions that could last as long as 30 years, according to multiple reports. The tax breaks will continue if Amazon invests $500 million and adds 50 jobs every year.

Mississippi has also provided a $215 million loan to Madison County to assist with site infrastructure work, as well as a $44 million package, most of which is earmarked for job training.

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Corporate greed or good business?

Maddie blasted Amazon for accepting corporate welfare — the 10-year tax exemption — in a state with “the highest rate of poverty in America.”

She does make a fair point. Mississippi has the highest rate of poverty in the U.S, according to the Census Bureau, with 19.1% of residents falling below the poverty line.

“It’s like no one ever played the game Monopoly. We’re literally nearing the end of the game,” said one of Maddie’s commenters, referring to when there’s only one player remaining in the game (in this case, corporate giant Amazon) who isn’t bankrupt.

However, another TikTok user pointed out: “Sounds like they’re trying to get new jobs in Mississippi with that investment of warehouses.”

That is very much the message that Amazon and the state of Mississippi are delivering. Upon announcing the landmark development, AWS Director of Economic Development, Roger Wehner said: “We are excited to expand our operations into Mississippi through this planned $10 billion investment, which will tap into the burgeoning tech sector across the state to create new, well-paying jobs and boost the state’s Gross Domestic Product each year.

“We look forward to delivering new workforce development opportunities and educational programs that support the next generation of talent across the Magnolia State.”

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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