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Head tax worries other Seattle tech companies, association leader says

Michael Schutzler, CEO of the Washington Tech Industry Association, said Amazon isn't the only company questioning future expansion in Seattle.

The head of a Washington state technology trade group believes more tech companies may be right behind Amazon after the company announced a plan to delay expansion Wednesday.

Michael Schutzler, CEO of the Washington Tech Industry Association, said Amazon isn’t the only company questioning their future expansion in Seattle.

“It may be this head tax is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “This is not just an Amazon story. Amazon is just sort of the poster child for this topic."

“I don’t know of a single company in the tech sector that isn’t genuinely concerned about the expense of operating in Seattle,” he continued. “It’s easy for companies to expand to other cities.”

Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, Teresa Mosqueda and Mike O'Brien are the primary sponsors of the tax proposal. They sent a joint statement in response to Amazon's pause.

“This was never a proposal targeting one company, but Amazon made the conversation about them when they expressed their intentions to pause construction on their new office tower pending a vote on our Progressive Tax on Business," they wrote.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, another supporter of the legislation, called Amazon’s pause "extortionary."

Schutzler touted that tech jobs have an economic multiplier.

“Our industry does have a high wage,” he said. “That high wage generates economic opportunity for a much wider swath.”

Schutzler said cities all over the country call him asking how they could attract the type of tech community Seattle has.

“We have lots of options, so if it becomes cost prohibitive to expand in Seattle, it’s really easy to continue expanding somewhere else,” he said.