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Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Image used with permission by copyright holder

After citizens, civic groups, and New York politicians cast doubt about the state’s joy over Amazon’s earlier decision to open one of two new satellite headquarters campuses in Queens, Amazon issued a statement that it will not build in New York City. The company will not look for a replacement site but will continue with its plans for projects in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Here are the first two paragraphs of today’s 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 percent 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.

Virginia is reportedly happy with Amazon’s plans to build the second of two remote headquarters in Arlington. Tennessee is all-in on the prospect of 5,000 new employees at a new Amazon facility, to the tune of a $15.2 million state-supported infrastructure package including roads, sewers, and more.

But New York didn’t feel the love.

Contrasting New York’s reception of Amazon’s expansion plans to the incentive-loaded open arms extended by Virginia and Tennessee, an unnamed source clued into Amazon said: “The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming.”

When Amazon announced its selection of Long Island City, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Amazon’s presence would generate $27 billion in projected tax income, millions of square feet of headquarters commercial space, and as many as 40,000 new jobs.

After the announcement, New York state and Big Apple politicians challenged the decision with a fervor that continued to intensify.

Freshman U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among the politicians, officials, and citizen groups posing resistance to Amazon’s project. Among other points, the detractors drew comparisons to Amazon’s primary headquarters city, particularly Seattle’s housing crisis, transportation system, and the growing financial disparity between those who do and those who do not work for Amazon.

After earlier reports that Amazon might reconsider a New York location for a remote headquarters, Cuomo didn’t hold back when The Washington Post asked him to comment.

“It’s a very small group of politicians who are pandering to the local politics,” Cuomo said. “The problem is the state senate has adopted that position, and that’s what could stop Amazon. And if they do, I would not want to be a Democratic senator coming back to my district to explain why Amazon left. … It is the largest economic development transaction in the history of the state of New York.”

But now the decision is made, and Amazon isn’t going to build a New York headquarters.

Updated February 14, 2019, with the news that Amazon has canceled plans to build a headquarters in NYC.

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Bruce Brown
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