A Mizzou economist says Missouri should not be chasing a national headline-grabbing large employer like Amazon. St. Louis and Kansas City are among several cities competing for the online giant’s future headquarters that is estimated to include 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion dollar investment. Associate Professor Saku Aura says the company is looking for the place with the best tax subsidy package – almost always making taxpayers the losers.

Mizzou Associate Economics Professor Saku Aura

“As a Missouri taxpayer, I really hope Amazon doesn’t come here. The place that most grossly overestimates the benefits from a large company moving is going to be the one who’s going to get it,” says Aura. “If they choose to come to Missouri, to me that would almost imply that we ended up being the biggest sucker among the 50 states.”

Even though Aura says it’s not likely to happen, he thinks Missouri should only offer the basic infrastructure changes as the incentives.

Aura compares the company bidding process to competing for professional sports franchises. In the end, a lot of local and state taxpayer money is wasted.

“I almost get annoyed when things like this happen and start grabbing media attention because this is the wrong way to try to make the Missouri economy grow. The right way is to focus on the fundamentals and not try to bribe employers to come here,” says Aura.

He says creating economic growth is best done with a reasonable and predictable tax policy and investment in education and infrastructure. Additionally, Aura says Missouri should be making the state attractive to all employers, not just very large companies.

Missouri U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill, a Democrat and Roy Blunt, a Republican joined together this week in support of the applications by the St. Louis and Kansas City regions for Amazon’s future corporate headquarters.

“Missouri has a rich history of fostering technology companies, from telecommunications providers to health technology solutions firms, data networking companies to high-tech supply chain management services, and a plethora of start-ups supported by the Missouri Technology Corporation, a public-private partnership created to foster the growth of new and emerging high-tech companies.”

A video released last week of Republican Governor Eric Greitens also pitches Missouri as the place where Amazon should build its head office.

Cities have until tomorrow to submit their proposals to Amazon. The company is expected to make a location decision next year.