Will Amazon’s decision to bail cause a New York backlash?
As the song goes, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Based on yesterday’s announcement by Amazon.com that it is abandoning plans to build part of its HQ2 campus in Long Island City, Queens, it appears as though Jeff Bezos and company weren’t willing to deal with the public and political scrutiny of the deal made by local and state government officials to attract the e-tail giant in the first place. Instead, Amazon has said it plans to expand 17 existing corporate offices and technology hubs it has around the country and add workers that would have wound up in New York to those locations.
While recent public opinion polls showed the majority of New Yorkers supportive of Amazon planting roots in Long Island City, the nearly $3 billion in incentives put forward by the state and local governments to attract the e-tail giant was less popular. Politicians and activists questioned the fairness of awarding huge breaks to one of the world’s largest companies when smaller businesses have to compete without any such advantages.
In announcing its decision, Amazon issued a statement that said, in part, “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. … 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.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, led the effort to bring HQ2 and the 25,000 jobs that were to come with it to the city, reacted negatively to Amazon’s decision to scrap the project.
“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,” said Mr. de Blasio in a statement. “We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”
Gov. Cuomo blamed petty politics and politicians including members of his own party.
“A small group [of] politicians 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,” said Gov. Cuomo. “The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
- Update on plans for New York City headquarters – Amazon.com
- Statement from Mayor de Blasio on Amazon HQ2 – The Official Website of the City of New York
- Statement from Governor Andrew M Cuomo – New York State
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your general opinion of the bidding process for Amazon HQ2 and the e-tailer’s decision to pull out of plans to build in Long Island City? Do you think there will be any Amazon backlash from residents of New York and the surrounding area?