Amazon Breaks Up With New York City

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After intense backlash and labor unions, Amazon announced on Feb. 14 that it will not build a second headquarters in New York City.

The corporate giant had an agreement New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill De Blasio to build a corporate campus in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for $3 billion in tax breaks. However, the plan met resistance from lawmakers and progressive groups almost immediately after it was announced.

“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,” Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Seth said in a statement on Feb. 14. Amazon said the same day it has no plans to look for a new location. It will still proceed with its plan to build the second part of their headquarters in Northern Virginia, as well as a distribution center in Nashville, Tennessee.

By building a second headquarters in Queens, Amazon was expected to bring an estimated 25,000 new jobs to the area and a projected $27.5 billion in tax revenue in 25 years. Despite this promised economic opportunity, Amazon’s plan received backlash from several lawmakers, most notably, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- New York).

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last November that Amazon is a billion-dollar company, and that “the idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need more investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.” Ocasio-Cortez has also been critical of Amazon’s facial analysis software, citing a study by MIT and the University of Toronto that said that the software misidentified women as men 19 percent of the time.

But Ocasio-Cortez is not alone in her criticism of Amazon’s plans to build a second headquarters in New York City. The company recently took heat from New York City Council members at a meeting last December. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer asked Amazon representatives during the meeting if they would redirect a $500 million capital grant to four public housing projects in Queens. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson criticized Amazon’s plan to build a helipad, calling it the only transportation piece of the project. Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman said the company would fund the construction of the helipad, and added that Amazon executives currently do not use helicopters to commute to work.

Amazon’s announcement to cancel its plan for a second headquarters drew disappointed responses from politicians and others the same day. Rep. Peter King (R- Iowa) said it was “absolutely disgraceful that Amazon was driven from New York by left-wing progressive politicians.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- South Carolina) told Amazon they could move to his state. The same was said by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D- Florida).

Tech:NYC said in a statement that Amazon’s decision is a blow to the local economy and the tens of thousands of people Amazon would have employed. Tech:NYC said that the decision is disappointing, given the overwhelming local support for the deal, and that bad politics got in the way of good policy. A Quinnipiac University poll found that the Amazon headquarters had 57 percent support from New York City voters.

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Mike Ursery