I never understood why, when large, profitable companies threaten to move out of New York, they immediately get offered millions in subsidies.
Consider FreshDirect, the online grocery store and food delivery service. The firm floats the idea of a $100 million subsidy offer from New Jersey and gets almost 30 percent more from Mayor Bloomberg--$127.8 million, including $20 million in cash.
The careful language of this New York Times article makes the deal suspect: "The company now plans to build a $112 million complex in the Bronx and over the next 10 years add almost 1,000 jobs to its work force of 1,963," the paper writes, but all Seth Lipsky, the head of Bloomberg's Economic Development Corporation, would confirm is that FreshDirect will invest "tens of millions of dollars" in a new facility. This divergence implies that the highly-touted $112 million investment might not ever happen--and that those 1,000 new jobs might never materialize. Furthermore, does anyone at City Hall think FreshDirect ever thought seriously about the logistics of doing just-in-time deliveries to its overwhelmingly NYC-based customers by running trucks over the always-crowded George Washington Bridge and through the routinely tied-up Lincoln and Holland Tunnels?
This deal reminds me of the 80s, when NBC extorted more than a hundred million from the city for its supposed decision to stay in 30 Rock instead of jumping across the Hudson. Think about the possibilities: Brian Williams broadcasting nightly from NBC's world news headquarters in Secaucus and Tina Fey starring in a sitcom called 1782 Paterson Plank Road.
Ah, it could have been!