Amazon has ditched its plan to build a new headquarters in New York City, opting instead to proceed with its “HQ2” site in Northern Virginia and additional expansion in Nashville and 17 corporate offices in the U.S. and Canada.
The decision means an estimated 25,000 jobs, generating $27 billion in economic benefit over multiple years, will not be coming to the New York area. The pullout came after fierce opposition by activists and politicians at the local and national level, who objected to a selection process they felt was far too secretive and a $3 billion tax-incentive package they saw as far too generous. One key figure in the fight against the company’s proposed entry into the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens is Rep. Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected Democrat from New York.
In recent days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (a potential 2020 presidential candidate) joined forces to try to push back at opponents. Cuomo said the potential loss of the largest job-creation project in the city’s history would be “a blow” to New York that could have lasting impact.
The political pair, often at odds, bonded over their seeming victory last fall after Amazon said it had selected New York and suburban Washington, D.C. over 232 other cities offering rich tax breaks to the company. Technology jobs, the argument went, would enable the city and state to weather the effects of a future recession, which historically has had an outsized impact on employment rolls tilted heavily toward the financial sector.
New York officials who differed from de Blasio and Cuomo in their assessment of the Amazon situation felt it would be problematic to devote resources to employees making an average of $150,000 a year when the city faces other issues. Crumbling subway and freeway systems, underfunded schools would be pushed aside in favor of large-scale gentrification and its attendant rent hikes and lack of affordable housing, according to opponents.
De Blasio reacted to the setback on Twitter, blaming the company for essentially taking its ball and going home. “You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” he tweeted. “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.”
Here is Amazon’s full 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% 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.
We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.
We do not intend to re-open the HQ2 search at this time. 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.
Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.