Amazon pulling out of Queens project
Feb 14, 2019 | 5016 views | 0 0 comments | 80 80 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After fierce opposition from many community groups, unions and local elected officials, including State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Amazon announced just today that it will not move forward with its Long Island City campus.

Here’s the statement they posted on their Day One blog:

"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 reopen 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.

Amazon hinted at this move last week, when sources leaked that the company was reconsidering its expansion in New York City. This led to advocates doubling down on their advocacy and outreach, while supporters ramped up their public push as well.

In City Council hearings, Amazon VP of Public Policy Brian Huseman said in his testimony that Amazon wants to go where they are wanted.

"New Yorkers just delivered a Valentine's Day message to Amazon: it's not us, it's you," anti-Amazon organizations said in a collective statement. "This victory is a clear demonstration of the power of workers and communities across Queens and New York who came together and are fighting for a city that works for us and not billionaires like Bezos."

Van Bramer, meanwhile, released a statement that when the community fights together, "anything is possible."

"Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city and state forever," he said.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson added that he wants companies to know that if they're willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenges, New York City is the "best place to do business."

"I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent," Johnson said in a statement. "I know I'd choose mass transit over helipads any day."

But not all elected officials were happy with Amazon's decision to pull out of the deal.

Councilman Eric Ulrich, a candidate for public advocate, said he was amazed how "the loud voices of a few" destroyed the chance at a better life for many people.

"Amazon had big plans in store for the borough of Queens, and we blew it," he said. "This sets a bad precedent moving forward and will deter other companies from setting up shop in our city."

Mayor Bill de Blasio added that the city gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighborhood. Instead of working with the community, he said, "Amazon threw away that opportunity."

"We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone," de Blasio said. "If Amazon can't recognize what that's worth, its competitors will."
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