Amazon packing after South Carolina tax vote

Amazon all but told South Carolina goodbye Wednesday after the online retailer lost a legislative showdown on a sales tax collection exemption it wants to open a distribution center that would bring 1,249 jobs to the Midlands.

Company officials immediately halted plans to equip and staff the one million-square-foot building under construction at I-77 and 12th Street near Cayce.

“As a result of today’s unfortunate House vote, we’ve canceled $52 million in procurement contracts and removed all South Carolina fulfillment center job postings from our (Web) site,” said Paul Misener, Amazon vice president for global public policy.

The decision came shortly after state representatives rejected the tax break 71-47.

“People who think this is a bluff don’t know Amazon,” Lexington County Councilman Bill Banning said. “Too many other states want them.”

The partly finished center probably will be completed and then “put into mothballs,” he said.

Most Midlands lawmakers supported the exemption, but opposition fanned by a coalition of small merchants, national retailers and Tea Party activists proved insurmountable, even as Misener came to lobby lawmakers Wednesday in a last-ditch bid to save the proposal.

Other measures proposing the tax break remain alive, but a loss that was unexpectedly lopsided makes it unlikely any will be considered.

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