Amazon, one of the world’s leading multinational technology companies, decided to abandon their plans of establishing a new headquarters in New York. They had originally promised to create 25,000 jobs in the city, all of which have been scrapped. The giant changed its course after activists and politicians expressed their objections on the $3 billion tax breaks that Amazon negotiated when they closed the deal.
Amazon announced their withdrawal from the planned headquarters on a blog post, revealing that they feel disappointed with the conclusion because of their love for New York City. The unexpected resignation means that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who both have lobbied for the project to come to fruition, will suffer from the severe blow. Their overreaching incentive offers for Amazon to build their headquarters in New York beat out serious contenders like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lehigh Valley.
Last November, Amazon revealed that Long Island City in Queens would be the home of one of their two headquarters, with the other being Virginia. The company was supposed to spend up to $2.5 billion for its New York headquarters.
Amazon Faces Critics
Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez feels that Amazon’s withdrawal is a joyous occasion for the people of New York. She believes that New Yorkers and their concerned neighbors have triumphed over the greed of a powerful corporation that exploits its workers. She also thinks that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was stripped of his power by average citizens despite being one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio both believe that Amazon’s plans will help transform Long Island City into an advanced tech hub. They assure New Yorkers that the corporation is capable of creating massive economic growth that will dwarf the city and state incentives offered in the long run. In a statement following Amazon’s withdrawal, Gov. Cuomo condemned a group of unknown politicians for putting their interests over the community’s progress. Mayor de Blasio, on the other hand, rebuked Amazon for giving up on the project without trying to make New York citizens understand the benefits of the headquarters in Long Island.
Amazon has over 5,000 employees currently residing in New York and wants to build more workforce inside the city. While Amazon has yet to find another location for its next headquarters, the company is completing new offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Arlington, Virginia. Twenty-five thousand job openings will surface for the Arlington office, while 5,000 employees will receive opportunities in the Nashville site.
The overwhelming benefits on the tax breaks forced Amazon to face fierce protests, with citizens feeling that average New York citizens will not be able to gain anything from the project. Critics believe that the headquarters plan is a giveaway or a shakedown as a worst-case scenario.
Pennsylvania, where two of the top 20 cities made the final list of Amazon’s HQ location, was able to offer a massive $4.6 billion, which consists of $4.5 billion in performance-based incentive contract and $100 million for improvements in transportation. A location holding over 3,000 Amazon employees, Lehigh Valley tried to submit a pleasing proposal for the corporation’s office but failed to make the top 20.
As the project became more accessible to the public, New York protesters and Long Island residents believe that Amazon’s stand against unions will become a problem, as well as the headquarters’ effect on rent and other costs.
State Senate district representative Michael Gianaris, whose jurisdiction reaches Long Island City, led the opposition against Amazon’s plans despite initially being in favor of the headquarters. Gianaris became critical of the negotiations and incentives received by Amazon, forcing him to oppose the deal upon announcement.
The City Council was also critical about Amazon officials regarding the labor practices of the company, as well as its deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for facial recognition security technology, among others.
Amazon Has Its Supporters in New York
Construction groups and local business leaders have also tried to get the public and politicians in on the plan to get an Amazon headquarters in New York. Realty executive Erik Benaim drew 4,000 signatures in a petition to support the large corporation.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 57 percent of New York citizens are okay with building an Amazon headquarters in the city, as opposed to 26 percent who voted against the idea. The incentives received by Amazon, however, drew a mixed reaction with only 46 percent being in favor against 44 percent of those who are not.