Amazon canceled plans to build a campus in New York City with at least 25,000 high-paying jobs Thursday, February 13, 2019 because of resistance from local politicians, unions and community activists who said a project initially hailed as an economic triumph was a lousy deal.
“There are a number of folks on the ground who oppose our presence,” Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Seth said. “We don’t think there’s a path forward in terms of working with them over the long term.”
The company issued a statement shortly before noon saying it did not intend to reopen its search for a second headquarters at this time but would continue with plans to put at least 25,000 jobs in Arlington County in Northern Virginia and 5,000 in Nashville.
The decision was a stunning reversal for Amazon, which badly miscalculated how it would be received when it announced in November it would put half of the 50,000 jobs promised in its much-publicized HQ2 search in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens.
While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) had celebrated the project, and opinion polls showed large majorities in favor of it, a strong backlash quickly developed.
Opponents, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), protested that the influx of Amazon employees, to be paid an average salary of at least $150,000 a year, would cause housing costs to skyrocket, drive out low-income residents and worsen congestion on the subway and streets.
They also objected to the up to $3 billion in state and local incentives promised to Amazon, the world’s most valuable company headed by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)
Ocasio-Cortez — who has attracted national attention for her liberal views, and whose district borders the proposed Amazon site — hailed the company’s pullout.
“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.
But some opponents said Amazon should have stayed in New York and made concessions, such as promising not to oppose efforts by its employees to organize unions.
Cuomo expressed deep disappointment and put the blame on what he called “a small group of politicians [who] put their own narrow political interests above their community.”
The governor, who had joked that he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” to win the deal, said the project would have brought in nearly $30 billion in revenue — a 9-to-1 return on the subsidies — and helped diversify the New York economy away from real estate and finance.
Read more at Washington Post.