Techs and the Cities: A New Economic Development Paradigm?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Techs and the Cities: A New Economic Development Paradigm?


  • Gary Sands Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Wayne State University, USA
  • Pierre Filion Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Laura A. Reese Urban and Regional Planning, Michigan State University, USA


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Abstract:  Large technology firms pose new challenges for local economic development in the 21st century. They are attractive targets for local economic developers because they have the potential of providing permanent, well-paying jobs. This article examines two mega-economic development deals. Amazon’s proposed second headquarters in Queens and Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside proposal for the Toronto waterfront pit large and prosperous Big Tech firms against local governments with healthy economies. Amazon abandoned the New York City site it had chosen, rather than open new negotiations with local officials and citizens. Sidewalk Labs withdrew from the Quayside proposal after two and a half years of negotiation focusing mostly on the size of the proposed development. Although the potential benefits may be substantial, incentivizing Big Tech’s location decisions may be well beyond the means of most cities, especially those with distressed economies.

Keywords:  Amazon; Big Tech; local economic development; New York City; Sidewalk Labs; Toronto

Published:   29 September 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i3.2986


© Gary Sands, Pierre Filion, Laura A. Reese. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.