Search interest spiked for “excelsior” on Nov. 12, with the passing of legendary Marvel writer Stan Lee. The man behind Spider-Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, and many other superheroes made the Latin word for “ever upward” his motto and frequent sign-off. After news of his death broke, “excelsior” almost immediately trended on Twitter.
But it wasn’t just Lee’s death that made this week a big one for “excelsior.” Excelsior is also the name of the main vehicle through which Amazon will extract tax benefits from New York state for picking Long Island City as one of two sites for its much-anticipated second headquarters.
The Excelsior Jobs Program allows businesses to claim credits for creating and maintaining jobs in New York state over a period of 10 years. Amazon has promised to employ 25,000 net new full-time permanent employees by June 30, 2028, making it eligible for up to $1.2 billion in refundable tax credits (pdf).
As far as tax credits seem from the world of superhero comics, Lee and New York evidently shared a fondness for the Latin word. While Lee popularized excelsior in the modern era, New York state made “Excelsior” the motto on its Great Seal in 1778, long before Lee was born.