Amazon cancels New York City HQ2 plans

Amazon cancels plans to open headquarters in New York citing opposition from local politicians

Amazon will not be building a new headquarters in NY, a stunning reversal after a year-long search.

The Jeff Bezos-led Amazon announced its engagement to NY (and Virginia, but we don't judge) in November, but the decision was met nearly instantly with protests from local politicians and workers' unions, which argued that the company's move to LIC would only increase the neighborhood's gentrification problem and that one of the world's most successful corporations owned by the world's richest man does not need billions of dollars in tax breaks. The e-commerce giant can always select another host city if it is deemed necessary in the future.

New York State, for instance, said it would grant $1.525 billion in incentives contingent on the company creating 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000.

But Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York City's new liberal firebrand, exulted over Amazon's pullout.

Opposition from state and local politicians effectively forced Amazon out of the Big Apple.

For now, Amazon officials say they have no plans to relaunch a search for another city to build the project dubbed HQ2. They're already working on plans for Northern Virginia and Nashville, and "will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the USA and Canada".

Amazon announced its plans for a new secondary campus late a year ago, but said political reaction caused it to reconsider.

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Union leaders said they would have been open to supporting the plans had the company considered making changes to its plans based off feedback from the community.

However, lawmakers balked at the almost $3 billion in NY state and city tax incentives that the Jeff Bezos-led firm stood to reap from the high-profile search for a location for "HQ2". He had recently been appointed to the state's Public Authorities Control Board, which would have had to unanimously approve the Amazon project. There was also a call for an environmental study to be done on what the effects of having Amazon and its new headquarters would have on the city. "I know I'd choose mass transit over helipads any day", he said, referencing the promised landing pad that's become a symbol of everything wrong with the Amazon deal. A Quinnipiac poll from December also showed strong support for the new campus, with 60 percent of Queens residents approving of the project and 26 percent against it. Cuomo said last week opposition in the state Senate against HQ2 was "governmental malpractice". However, Amazon was reportedly unwilling to budge from its position.

Last week Amazon executives tested the waters by speaking anonymously to The Washington Post about ditching its entire plan.

"You have to be tough to make it in New York City", he tweeted. And politicians are keen for Amazon to make Toronto its home away from home. "We competed in and won the most hotly contested national economic development competition in the United States, resulting in at least 25,000-40,000 good paying jobs for our state and almost $30 billion dollars in new revenue", Cuomo said, saying it could have gone towards things like schools and infrastructure.

Amazon announced in November that it had chosen the Long Island City section of Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in Arlington, Virginia. 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.

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 USA and Canada.



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