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Amazon Center Still a Possibility in South Carolina

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The Amazon distribution center in South Carolina could still be a possibility. Amazon's plans for building a center in South Carolina would have created around 1,200 jobs. But in return Amazon wanted itself exempt from sales tax on its sales to South Carolina residents. The sales tax break would have lasted for five years. The South Carolina legislature voted down the bill on April 27, 71-47, which would have approved this exemption.

The reason was that Amazon's tax exemption demand was seen by local businesses as being unfair competition. They vigorously protested the bill and the South Carolina lawmakers listened to them. But as soon as the bill was shot down, Amazon said that it was pulling out of the state altogether. The company's distribution center would have been built in Spartanburg County with an investment total of around $100 million.

But Amazon still has plenty of supporters in the state. And the company itself is pushing again for a second vote. Both Amazon and its supporters in the legislature are working on a deal that would be palatable to the lawmakers and South Carolina residents.

Amazon seems to have a second chance because of the surprise announcement by Wal-Mart that it would be expanding its presence in the state and creating 4,000 jobs. Wal-Mart is seen by most small businesses as being tough competition if not outright unfair competition. The fact was not lost on the local media that while Amazon was basically kicked out of the state, Wal-Mart was being allowed to expand. But Governor Nikki Haley says that with Wal-Mart no special deal was struck.

The anti-Amazon campaign was led by the South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness. The group took out ads in local and state newspapers for thanking representatives for voting down Amazon's tax breaks. But the group is undecided if it will again take to the airwaves and newspapers if a second vote comes up.

House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham is a supporter of the Amazon deal. He has plans to bring the tax deal issue up for debate on the floor of the House next week. He has said that some of the members who voted against the Amazon deal thought the company was bluffing. They did not think that the company would really pull out of the state if the deal did not go through.
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