After months of intoxicating build-up, Amazon has pulled the plug on plans to build an HQ2 corporate campus in New York City, after failing to face down unexpectedly strong resistance from a community that didn’t think the retail-everything giant deserved the $3 billion in government incentives it would get in return.
The public had waited for what seemed like an eternity for Amazon to decide on the location of its second headquarters. And after a year of speculation and intensive lobbying by a number of cities in the running, reports emerged last November reports that Amazon would split its HQ2 into two: gracing both NYC and Northern Virginia with its presence, and bringing a prospective 25,000 new jobs to each.
But while other cities were salivating over the prospect, not so, New York. IN fact, the Long Island community has shown anything but affection for Amazon.
"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," Jodi Seth, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The decision came after Amazon noted that "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.” Related: Why Are Bitcoin Investors Switching To Gold?
Even so, 57 percent of New York City residents did actually support Amazon’s arrival in the region, compared to just 26 percent who oppose the deal, according to a December Quinnipiac University poll.
New York State committed to $1.525 billion in incentives, contingent on the company creating 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000. In addition to the 25,000 jobs, Amazon would've brought $2.5 billion in Amazon investment and eventually 8 million square feet of office space to Long Island City as part of its investment announced last November.
The deal faced criticism from local officials such as Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, as well as from progressive groups that held rallies and petitioned in Queens against the deal as soon as it was announced. Protesters took to the streets in Long Island City, criticizing the deal as being bad for taxpayers and the neighborhood.
Gianaris called the plan to award Amazon billions of dollars in tax credits and direct grants “offensive” to residents and taxpayers struggling with aging subways, overcrowded schools and a lack of affordable housing.
“I’m not declaring victory, but I do believe it demonstrates the power of the arguments that we’ve been making against Amazon,” media quoted City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer as saying.
It’s a bit of a hard loss for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose desperate attempt to bring Amazon to New York had been the subject of criticism since day one. “We get 27 [billion], they get 3 billion back. I would do that all day long,” Cuomo defended the deal last Friday.
"This announcement marks a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world's richest man," said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of the anti-poverty group Make the Road New York, adding that Amazon was getting "taxpayer giveaways" so that it could "force its empire-building on our neighborhoods”.
Kathyrn S. Wylde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, disagreed strongly. From her perspective, this Amazon defeat could end up translating into a much wider defeat for the City of New York. Wylde said the reception Amazon had received sent a “pretty bad message to the job creators of the city and the world”.
By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com