Business

Worcester to offer $500 million in incentives to lure Amazon

Buildings are seen along Front Street in downtown Worcester. Jackie Ricciardi for The Boston Globe/file 2013

The City of Worcester is digging deep to woo an Amazon headquarters, with a proposal to offer up to $500 million in local property tax breaks.

The incentive package would be spread out over 20 years, according to a copy of the 60-page bid, released Tuesday night.

Amazon.com Inc. is on the hunt for a second corporate headquarters that would create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and come with a $5 billion investment from the Seattle-based tech and retailing giant. Bids are due Thursday, and dozens of North American cities are expected to submit proposals, including Boston and Somerville.

Worcester, the state’s second-largest city, after Boston, is proposing that Amazon take over three parcels totaling 98 acres along Route 20. A commuter rail line runs along the property, but a station would need to be built. The privately owned land is zoned for manufacturing, but the city indicated it can be rezoned for commercial use, such as offices.

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The bid aims to set up Worcester as a low-cost tech-hub alternative.

Technology talent can be drawn from the city’s nine college and universities, most notably Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (Joe Quinlivan, Amazon Robotics’ president and chief operating officer, is a WPI alumnus.)

The bid highlights how the cost of living in Worcester is lower than in Boston and Seattle. The average single-family home in Worcester costs about $234,000, while many condominium units in Boston are being sold for more than $1 million.

In comparing Worcester to Seattle, the bid shows how much house you can buy with about $575,000. In Seattle, that amount gets you a two-bedroom, one-bath home; in Worcester, you can have a five-bedroom, house with three full baths.

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The size of Worcester’s tax breaks reflects how seriously the city wants Amazon and is likely to reignite a debate on whether governments should offer such incentives. The City of Boston gave General Electric Co. a property tax break of $20 million over 20 years when it relocated from Connecticut to Boston last year; the state kicked in up to $125 million in incentives. GE’s move is expected to generate about 800 jobs.

Amazon has said it will make a decision next year on where it will locate its second headquarters.

View: Worcester’s proposal to Amazon