Amazon to NYC: See ya. Company cancels New York HQ2

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Amazon has canceled plans for its HQ2 campus in New York City and says it will concentrate on expanding its Northern Virginia and Nashville operations. The move follows fervent resistance to the retail giant’s plans to bring 25,000 jobs to the Long Island City section of New York’s Queens.

New York and Arlington won a nationwide competition to host Amazon’s second headquarters, which the retail giant had originally said would eventually house 50,000 workers. But in November 2018, Amazon announced that it had chosen both Long Island City and the Crystal City area of Arlington and would divide the jobs between them. A smaller center would also be built in Nashville, Tenn.

The decision was greeted jubilantly in Northern Virginia but opposition developed quickly in New York, where critics objected to granting nearly $3 billion in tax incentives to one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies.

The company issued a statement today saying it was abandoning the New York portion of the project.

“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,” Amazon said.

No love lost

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had worked behind the scenes to grease the skids for Amazon, which turned out to be part of the problem. Critics said a tax break of the magnitude being offered to Amazon should not be done in secret and should be open to review and reversal by the city council.

Politicians including newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) piled on as opposition grew and, although polls showed that about 70 percent of New York residents supported the project, the controversy became a public relations nightmare for Amazon and perhaps a foreshadowing of controversies to come if the company went ahead with the deal.

For the last several days, there have been unverified reports that Amazon was reconsidering its selection of New York and today those reports were verified.

“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,” the company said 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% 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.”

 

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.