New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had warned at a news conference last week following the report that the local and regional leaders would have to answer to voters if Amazon did not ultimately bring its 25,000 jobs to the state.
“You want to diversify your economy? You don’t want to just be Wall Street and finance?” Cuomo asked at the conference last week. “We need Amazon.”
Local and state leaders had voiced significant opposition after New York City and state had offered the company performance-based incentives amounting to nearly $3 billion. These leaders were not privy to the details of the deal until after Amazon had made its decision. Cuomo said the deal would still bring in $27 billion in revenue in exchange for the incentive package and called the opposition to Amazon “governmental malpractice.”
Amazon executives had made attempts to quell local fears about its move into the city. In December, two executives attended a hearing in front of members of New York’s City Council where lawmakers addressed questions about how the company would ensure it hired a diverse workforce from the Queens community it was moving into, among other concerns. Council members expressed anger over the closed door deal and accused Amazon’s actions of proving it was a bad neighbor.
“I see this as Walmart 2.0 and we’re going to continue to fight because we object to the process that has brought us to [this] point,” said council member Inez Barron at the December hearing. “You’re in for a battle. You’re in for a fight.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris, another vocal critic of the Amazon deal who was selected last week to serve on the state board that would have had final approval on the Amazon deal, said he would not mind to see the company abandon its plans. Asked if he would consider it a victory if Amazon no longer planned to build its headquarters in NYC, Gianaris said, “Under these terms of the deal that’s before us, absolutely.”
Some Amazon employees had bought homes in the Long Island City area of Queens even before the company had announced its plans to open a headquarters there, The Wall Street Journal reported in November.
Here is the full statement:
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.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.