* John Lippert and Natalie Moore at the BGA…
Amazon has been quietly cutting such deals in and around Chicago since 2015, winning tax breaks and public incentives to build 36 warehouses as part of its nationwide effort to expand its own distribution system, cut its dependence on rival shippers like the U.S. Postal Service and bolster its famous promises of next-day delivery.
To help pay for its vast expansion, the company and its developers have won at least $741 million in taxpayer-funded incentives in northeast Illinois alone, according to a Better Government Association/WBEZ investigation.
An examination of public records from more than two dozen municipalities provides new details in Amazon’s six-year effort, revealing a patchwork of nondisclosure agreements, a lack of transparency during negotiations and suburbs pitted against each other to secure the most favorable deal.
The BGA/WBEZ analysis found the company received far more tax breaks from communities of color — like University Park.
Amazon collected less than $100 million in public incentives for the 15 warehouses it built in predominantly white communities but won more than $640 million in taxpayer incentives for the 21 projects built in communities with larger nonwhite populations, the examination found. Many of those communities are either mostly Black, mostly Latinx or have higher concentrations of low-income residents, and with municipal budgets already short on cash.
Records show the three largest incentive packages Amazon received — totaling $512 million — all came from predominantly Black suburbs. By contrast, the company built warehouses in at least seven mostly white communities that reported offering no public incentives at all.