Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Amazon's HQ2 NYC: Amazon reconsiders headquarters after local opposition, report says

Boxes move down a conveyor belt at an Amazon fulfillment center Amazon to Reconsider Moving Its HQ to New York Due to Local Opposition- Reports
Russell Knight | 09 February, 2019, 17:08

This past month, a leading critic of NY subsidies for Amazon's plan to build a second headquarters in Queens was nominated to serve on a state board with the power to reject the project.

Amazon is reconsidering plans for a new headquarters in NY amid a torrent of public opposition.

Amazon has mailed flyers to Queens residents, touting the economic and jobs benefits of its NY expansion, trying to blunt opposition from some local lawmakers who said Amazon received too many tax and other benefits.

"We're focused on engaging with our new neighbors - small business owners, educators, and community leaders", an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

While all of that is happening, Amazon floated this pullback from NY, citing how "welcoming" politicians in Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee have been in handing over public money for its site locations.

In November, the online retailer announced that it has chosen two locations for its new HQ2 project, one in Long Island City, and a second in Virginia.

Cuomo admitted that the community surrounding the site is "nervous", but he says the 25,000 jobs that Amazon has promised to create are worth any inconvenience.

Fearful of losing almost $3 billion in subsidies for its expansion in New York City, Amazon has moved to a new strategy, one involving threats.

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Detractors-including including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a nearby district in Queens and the Bronx-have pointed to the potential neighborhood disruption, strains on an already congested public transit system, and rising rent and property prices that could push out existing residents from nearby neighborhoods. At a recent panel discussion about lessons learned from the process, Mike Finney, president and CEO of the Beacon Council, did not mention any specific feedback he'd received from Amazon officials about South Florida's bid The event was sponsored by the Miami Herald. One point of contention could be Amazon's opposition to labor unions.

NY city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the Queens neighborhood and opposes the deal, told the Guardian he had heard "some rumbling in the last few days" that "Amazon was teetering or rethinking".

In response to a request for comment, Amazon appeared to commit itself to the NY project, though didn't explicitly say so.

"Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world's biggest corporations?"

Although New York leaders like Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) praised the proposed move to the state, progressives like Ocasio-Cortez were outraged.

The split second headquarters, which Amazon called HQ2, attracted 238 proposals from across North America in a year-long bidding war. A third city, Nashville, won an Amazon operations hub with 5,000 workers.

That year-long search could be starting all over again.

It's likely the change of heart has to do with the intense backlash against the idea from New York City residents. What benefit the company would actually get was unclear.

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