Amazon has announced that it is canceling its plans to open a new headquarters in the Long Island City section of New York and was not currently planning to reopen the search for another headquarters site.“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,” said the company in a statement. “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.”
Both Westchester and Fairfield counties were among the regions that offered potential sites for the Seattle-based e-commerce giant when it opened a competition in 2017 to find a new location for a second headquarters complex.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont made a public overture to Amazon to consider his state after a Feb. 8 report in the Washington Post cited anonymous sources claiming that Amazon was unhappy by opposition from some elected officials – including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) – and community activists to their potential arrival in New York. Amazon promised to create 25,000 jobs and would have received $3 billion in city and state subsidies in a deal that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “the largest economic development initiative that has ever been done by the city or the state or the city and the state, together.”
Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to celebrate the news. “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,” she tweeted.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio belittled Amazon’s abrupt departure. “You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” he wrote on Twitter. “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.”
But Cuomo reacted to the news by blaming Amazon’s decision on “a small group politicians [who] 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. The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
John Ravitz, vice president and chief operating officer of The Business Council of Westchester, noted that his organization planned to meet with Amazon officials to promote the county as a source of skilled professionals and housing for the planned development.
“Beyond being a huge loss for the entire region, Amazon’s exit sets a terrible precedent for other corporations looking to relocate or expand here,” he said. “We do not want to send the message to these companies that they are not welcome. This perception is something that we will now have to work even harder to dispel.”
Mike Oates, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp., pointed a finger at “short-sighted politicians [who] clearly did not understand the value of incentives that were performance based. This could have meant 25,000 high quality jobs with an average salary of $150,000. This is like fumbling the football on the one-yard line in the Super Bowl.”
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, warned that Amazon’s decision is an acute blow to the state.
“New York state had already seen a decline in tax revenues late last year, thought linked to the decline in the stock market and the cap on federal income tax deductibility of state and local taxes, crimping the housing market,” said Hamrick.