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After public backlash from the Long Island City, Queens community, Amazon has decided not to continue its pursuit of opening a second headquarters in New York City.
Amazon had announced plans for a second headquarters in September 2017, promising 50,000 high paying technology-based jobs and community development in its new “HQ2”. Cities all over the United States placed billion dollar bids and promised city redevelopment to make way for the giant to settle in. The search for HQ2 ended on November 13, when Amazon decided to split the new headquarters between New York City and Arlington, Virginia.
New York City had planned for nearly $3 billion in public subsidies and tax incentives for the tech giant. Amazon released a statement on February 14 stating, “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.”
Amazon had been present at two City Council meetings, one in November and one in January, where protesters rallied against the company. Council members spoke out against the tax breaks and incentives that a trillion-dollar company owned by the world’s richest man would be receiving.
The outspoken Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the 14thDistrict of New York—which covers the Bronx and parts of Queens—tweeted that “dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
Amazon’s statement of withdrawal ended with them thanking Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio for their support and stated that they “hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.”
NJIT alum and the NYC Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology Samir Saini visited NJIT last Friday. In an interview, he stated that Amazon’s departure is, “a loss to New York City, but one city’s loss could be another city’s win… If they decide that they want another one [headquarters], Newark was on the short list and we already know they want to be in the northeast and New York is right across the river. I think it would be incredible for them to come here.”
After Amazon’s February 14 decision, Newark took advantage of the situation and its timing, and sent a giant Valentine’s Day heart reading “NJ & Newark Still Love U, Amazon!” to the Seattle headquarters. Newark also offered $7 billion in incentives to Amazon, second only to Montgomery County, Maryland. Perhaps, as Saini suggested, New York City’s loss, could be a win for Newark.