Why Amazon Didn’t Pick Tucson for Its Headquarters

Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and similarly enlightened companies espouse diversity, say they care about the poor and disadvantaged, and want few restrictions on immigration. Yet they would never establish a high-wage headquarters in one of the many poor cities in America that have a large percentage of emigrants from Latin America.

Take Tucson, Arizona. Now compare it with Arlington County, Virginia, where Amazon is locating its second headquarters—a county that is part of the uber-rich metropolis of Washington, D.C., which grew rich from its main industries of featherbedding, rent-seeking, lobbying, regulating, and taxing.

Tucson’s poverty rate is four times that of Arlington County, and its median household income is only a third of Arlington’s. Also, only 26.6% of Tucson residents 25 years and older have a college degree, versus 74.1% for Arlington. And significantly, 42.9% of Tucson’s population is Latino, versus 15.6% for Arlington.

At least Arlington’s Latino population is higher than the Latino population of 7.5% in Redmond, Washington, where Microsoft is located; or the 6.6% in Seattle, where Amazon and Starbucks are located.

Redmond and Seattle are very similar to Arlington in their high levels of wealth and education, as well as their high percentages of Asians and non-Hispanic whites—demographics that they share with Silicon Valley, where Google and Facebook are located.

So, if the executives of the rich companies in these locales espouse diversity and care about the poor, why don’t they establish headquarters in a city like Tucson, which sorely needs additional tax revenue and imported wealth?

It’s not that they couldn’t find capable talent in Tucson. After all, the University of Arizona is located in Tucson and has top-notch students in computer engineering and other technical fields. Also located in Tucson are the Basis charter schools, which rank near the top in academics worldwide. Besides, it’s ludicrous to believe that some of the supposed best companies in America couldn’t attract talent to wherever they were located.

Tucson also has a beautiful natural setting, a desirable climate, plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains and national parks, a hipster area, great restaurants, relatively easy commutes, inexpensive housing, and an attractive Hispanic cultural heritage. And to top it off, Tucson leans left, just like the companies in question. What’s not to like?

Apparently, the executives of the enlightened companies don’t like certain types of diversity. Asians are okay, but Latinos are not.

It’s also apparent that they don’t want to live where the poor outnumber the rich. They’re okay with establishing low-wage warehouses and back offices in such locales as Tucson, but living with the poor and far from their fellow elites is out of the question.

Lionel Trilling could have been writing about them when he wrote in 1950, “We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.”

Mr. Cantoni is a resident of Tucson, an author and activist, and a retired management consultant.

About Craig J. Cantoni 9 Articles
Community Activist Craig Cantoni strategizes on ways to make Tucson a better to live, work and play.


  1. Tucson continues to suffer from any qualified leadership. That extends right to TPD. So sad that we tolerate this.

  2. Hi Amazon, perhaps you came took a snapshot from my neighborhood?
    1. Kids shot.
    2. Carjackings.
    3. Home invasions.
    4. Reduced police force ran by a incompetent Chief.
    5. Police Helicopter constantly in the neighborhood.
    6. Cannot take walks in the neighborhood, ever.
    7. Pit bulls allowed and they have attacked people (police required to shoot them).
    8. Shootings, stabbings and murder.
    9. Inundated with sex offenders that the city houses.
    10. Child abductions and murders; incompetent police chief cant solve for years. Duh…sex offender was down the road and finally caught.
    11. City leadership is incompetent.
    12. Fire department not functioning efficiently and is a money pit, to include the pension mess.
    13. Mentally ill homeless, living worse than wild dogs, allowed to roam and live on the street.
    14. Gang violence and gun shots nearly every night.
    15. TUSD a disaster; parents in this town a disaster.
    16. Taxes increases and spending continues by city council.
    17. No accountability for: city council, city vendors (take a look at the bus stops) or fire department ( Fire engines – 2 mpg – sent on a medical calls – not an AMBULANCE)and now the city considering terminating its paramedics to keep fire trucks, that rarely put out fires. Thank the union for this.
    18.Property crime and home burglary a regular occurance.
    19. Perhaps they were nearly killed by a red light runner?
    20. Did I mention the prostitutes, drugs and a business where men can enter, do their business while watching XXX movies and then leave?? Ya, and this is across from a church. Sickening.
    22. Violent sex crime…AT A CHURCH!
    Hope your reading this Amazon, good decision because this is your city council and this is only a 1 sq mile snap shot.
    JDFast knows what I’m talking about…..

  3. Or it may have something to do with undrivable roads, poor public schools and pedestrian leadership. Heck what does Jeff Bezos know, next time lets send him an Ocottilo.

  4. What an awesome take!!! I wish Amazon would have taken a bunch of AZ tax credits just like Foxconn did in Wisconsin. MAGA will win at some point.

  5. Maybe they heard about the Mayor getting carjacked and the Police Chief having his car broke into!

  6. Who knows what companies study before deciding to invest in a particular area; but, if they’re smart, they scrutinize local news coverage for at least the last decade so they’re aware of the political shenanigans in the area.
    A few years ago, politicians in a nearby town were crying about upcoming financial shortfalls; this, after seemingly trying to emulate COT and Pima County with a couple of questionable crony deals. At the same time, they announced that they’d previously appropriated tens of thousands of dollars to have the town “rebranded;” and I always wondered if the rebranding involved yet another crony deal. Of course nothing says “this is a well-run town” like having to rebrand it.

  7. AZ ranked 45th in education among the 50 states for 2018 and Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) scrapes the bottom ranks in AZ is a main reason for Amazon not to locate in Tucson. Poorly educated workers in Tucson will keep big business away for the most part.

  8. No one is mentioning that Tucson has one of the highest crime rates (for a city of it’s size) in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. What business executive thinks they can attract talent to a city like that? And let’s not forget that Tucson’s infrastructure reeks of the 1950s (and I dare say some roads in Tucson may not have been paved since then). Tucson mainly appeals to people who want to spend their off hours drinking beer, eating tacos, and glowing in their self-righteousness about illegal immigration.

      • Sorry I hit a nerve, Lefty, but I was exactly on topic. Nothing wrong with beer and tacos, unless that’s all you’re informed about, which is pretty much the norm in Tucson. And speaking of high-horses, how’s the view from up there on yours, hypocrite?

  9. The cot and bos are both anti business, all ya have to do is just research all the ones that have left and the ones that are barely making it. Remember the giveaways for IBM, then slime fast, then followed up on by the mex bean cannery (which never showed up), several nationally known small business’ that relocated to places like N/S Dakota to get away from the taxed to death environment. Again I remember from the late 60’s how Motorola OWNED most of the foothills area and wanted to build a assembly plant up in the area. ALL the nimbys said no, build it on the south side and we will come work down there, dont need the ones from the south side up here. Motorola moved built in Nogales area and I guess went under. Weiser lock another company that moved out of the area. There were/are many over the years. Part of the issue is that the people have no desire for their kids to be educated, tusd doesn’t really want them in school except for the $$ from feds and state (its actually worse now then 20 years ago). The cot AND bos have continually failed to do their duty as regards infrastructure on roads, better tax plans (other than raise them) and overall living in the area. Yes it could be much better but with the idiots continuously being elected and reelected you will never pull anything into tucson of pima co. Did cat ever show up? If they did it must have been a real abberation!

    Let mr trump build the wall, enforce EXISTING laws and then see what happens. Hold people accountable for their actions and that of their underaged kids. Dont let them be ‘suspended’, allowed to walk the streets and then maybe get hit in a drive by (remember the kid on SUSPENSION from school about 20 years ago?), treat trouble makers in schools with a purpose, not a slap on the hands and then gget teachers that really care to teach, not a position holder as many seem to be now and made worse with the red for ed bs pushed by the union.

    There are many things wrong in this area and until we get decent representation AT ALL LEVELS it will only get worse.

  10. I heard when Amazon Execs. came to town the limo driver was asked about the condition of the roads. They knew if this is how the county & city are run they didn’t want any thing to do with it. Simple.

  11. Cantoni really played the race card but he didn’t look deeper at the reasons for all of the issues that he sighted and I call BS. First and foremost TUSD is a total wreck and voters continue to allow it to be one of the worst school districts in the country. The lack of ecucation for the kids is pathetic and add that to the parents that flat out don’t give a crap about little Johnnie and Suzie’s education adds up to a horrible work force. On top of that add 20 plus years of government incompetence, infrastructure and the liberal mantra of open borders that bring in the “worst of the worst” and these ILLEGALS have no education and only want to live off the taxpayer for the rest of their lives. Who the hell would settle here. A horrible goverment both city and county, lack of good schools and parental control, and an influx of ILLEGALS that the city/county just love turns off just about everyone that has a clue, but its clear that the cronies that run both the city and county want the cheap labor and a work force that thinks 10/hour is a geat wage. SSDD in the Tucson metro area. Its much more than racism, its a result of idiots that are in charge and the voters that continue to leave them there because of the party.

    • JDFast has hit the nail on the head. The Liberal mindset in Tucson is keeping companies from bringing their businesses to Tucson. Changes are needed.

    • How can you say Cantoni`s exposing the fact that Amazon and the big Tech companies avoid heavily Hispanic locales to site their headquarters is “playing the race card?” On the other hand, your listing of all the reasons that Tucson and Pima County are a wreck are spot on. Admittedly, there is much truth in the axiom that we get the government we deserve but it is less true in an area like the Tucson metro area where the media generally share the political agenda of most of the elected politicians to such an alarming degree. ONe example, the Arizona Daily Star is now “proudly” joining the Democrat Party to greatly expand taxpayer supported pre-school child care to enhance the educational achievement of Tucson children even though ever since the beginning of Head Start every credible study has shown there are no long term educational benefits to such pre-K programs and it should be obvious to anyone that the problem with under achievement in Tucson schools is almost wholly due to an inept TUSD Board. On the other hand, taxpayer funded pre-school care will enhance the newspaper`s image and will undoubtedly garner a huge number of votes this fall for the Star`s party of record, the Democrat Party and the Star and the Democrats can count on the support of Arizona Governor Ducey as the icing on this political cake.

    • Go to City council meetings and voice it or shut your trap.
      Not every Mexican you see is illegal you idiot.

      • There’s no race card. If affordable houses was the sole metric, we’d win. We don’t win when one considers the HS and graduation rate. A large company needs to draw on a large pool of educated potential workers. Not all the potentially qualified will air for Amazon. Despite presence of UA, the pool of potential workers is lower than in other states. Plus…they probably had their teeth rattled

      • There’s no race card. If affordable houses was the sole metric, we’d win. We don’t win when one considers the HS and graduation rate. A large company needs to draw on a large pool of educated potential workers. Not all the potentially qualified will air for Amazon. Despite presence of UA, the pool of potential workers is lower than in other states. Plus…they probably had their teeth rattled by the rough roads and potholes and said “Forget it.”

    • Exactly. Some day the people of Tucson will have to peek out of their imaginary Utopian society and face the fact that most of the people that come from south of the border are coming here for the free goodies. They may be perfectly willing to work, but without any education or skills beyond raking yards, without the ability to speak English, without the ability to make themselves use some kind of birth control until they can afford the children they pop out every year, and without the ability to advance their standard of living—except through petty crime—THEY WILL CONTINUE TO DRAG THE REST OF SOCIETY DOWN! Look at the rich Democrats living in the foothills. They’re safe and happy living in their gated communities with security patrols. Happy to have the cheap labor. Happy to brag about the lovely Tucson weather and beautiful desert, while overlooking (literally) the poverty, crime, shuttered businesses, and crumbling roads the rest of us have to deal with every day.

    • Sounds to me the same reason I left Ma. STOP VOTING IN DEMS ALL THEY DO IS DESTROY, LOOK AT CAL and all the dem run states case closed.

Comments are closed.