It’s been ringing all over headlines the past few days, Amazon is no longer building its new headquarters in New York City. The entire project is gone as are the 25,000 – 40,000 jobs in the Long Island City section of Queens along with an estimated $27 billion in tax revenue, backed by $3 billion in state and local subsidies. The plans that Amazon had for the area made it poised to become one of the largest economic-development projects in state history.
Answering the next obvious question, ‘why’ seems to break people into two groups, those that saw this coming and those who can’t understand why New York City would turn it down. Many believed it would advance the city’s efforts to bolster its tech sector, making it less reliant on the very unstable and unpredictable fluctuations of Wall Street.
The two groups seem to have plenty of people that believe Amazon’s new headquarters belongs right here in Texas, specifically in Dallas.
But soon after New York won a national competition last November along with Virginia for the Amazon HQ2, the project started to unravel.
And on Thursday, Amazon pulled out of the deal, leaving supporters to point fingers at who is to blame and opponents celebrating their ability to beat back the world’s largest company.
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a neighboring district, wrote on Twitter.
Here’s how the deal unraveled:
They feared that the public services in the city — the subways, the schools and the neighborhoods — would be overtaken by Amazon.
Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, had yet to lease or purchase office space for the New York City project, the paper reported Friday.
What may have been the final straw for Amazon was a recent decision by the state Senate to add one of the most vocal opponents of the project to a little-known state board — the Public Authorities Control Board.
The Senate appointed Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, to the board, which would have to have approved at least some of the public aid for the project.
Critics said the deal was brokered without public knowledge.
“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” Gianaris said in a statement.
“Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way.”
“A small group of politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state,” he said in a statement.
“The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
But Cuomo said the reasons Amazon wanted to come to New York — its talent pool, education system and diversity — will sustain even without the company.
“We won’t be deterred as we continue to attract world class business to communities across New York state.”
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio helped broker the deal and warned for weeks that local opposition could jeopardize it.
Cuomo’s office said the $3 billion in public subsidies would be small compared to the estimated $27 billion in economic activity and jobs the company would bring to the city and metropolitan area, an estimate culled from a state-financed report.
De Blasio on Thursday knocked Amazon for the decision.
“You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” he said in a statement. “We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.”
Republicans in New York blamed Democrats for Amazon’s decision. They had hoped Amazon would led to job opportunities for the whole region, including the Hudson Valley and Long Island.
“From the start, the Senate Democrats have politicized and poisoned this process just so they could avoid the wrath of the extreme left wing of their party,” said Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County.
Dissenters Applaud Amazon’s Decision
“Ultimately, Queens is not for sale,” Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, said at a rally after the announcement.
The company had refused to unionize the workforce, and the unions opposed the big tax breaks for one of the world’s most valuable company and the world’s richest man.
Critics said Amazon refused to work with local leaders to assuage their issues.
“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers, Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers — that’s not what a responsible business would do,” said Chelsea Connor, spokeswoman for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
On Thursday, the reaction was mixed to Amazon’s decision. After the announcement in November, rents were on the rise and vacant apartments were being quickly scooped up.
“It’s a bit cruel and inconsiderate to get people all stirred up,” said Miguelina Rodriguez, an urban studies professor at CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
“Landlords were practically doubling and tripling the rents in a matter of weeks in anticipation of Amazon’s arrival.”
But others said they were pleased with Amazon’s decision.
“I moved out of Long Island City three years ago because things were getting too expensive,” said Betsy Alwin, 45, an artist who was there Thursday for a conference.
“It’s good that Amazon listened to the people. I think it’s good that we make sure that large corporations aren’t just getting handouts unless people are really going to benefit.”
Around lunchtime at a busy Starbucks on Jackson Avenue, the main thoroughfare that runs through the area, it was business as usual as workers bundled beneath bubble coats, scarves, beanies and the occasional construction hat came in for a cup of coffee.
Greg Biel, 64, who is a sales representative at a rubber supply company, said he couldn’t understand why Amazon pulled out so quickly.
“I think it could have been great for the small businesses around here to see more people, more foot traffic,” he said.
The question on everyone’s mind now is, where will Amazon go next?
Amazon hasn’t said a word about its next step, all signs point toward the company taking a step back and carefully deciding it’s next move.
That next move could be great news for Dallas.
References: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2019/02/14/amazon-drops-plans-add-headquarters-new-york-city/2870016002/ https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2019/02/14/amazon-drops-plans-add-headquarters-new-york-city/2870016002/ FILE- In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo graffiti has been painted on a sidewalk by someone opposed to the location of an Amazon headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York. Amazon said Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, that it will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search. The online retailer has faced opposition from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the tax incentives Amazon was promised. (Photo11: Mark Lennihan, AP) Includes reporting by USA Today's Dalvin Brown. Full Amazon statement Here's Amazon's full statement:
“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens.
For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term.
While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.
We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion—we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture—and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents.
There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.
We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process.
Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts.
The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.
We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.
Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.”