Amazon reconsidering second HQ in New York

Amazon is reconsidering plans to open its second headquarters in New York after facing strong opposition from local residents and lawmakers.

Sources familiar with the matter told The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, that company executives have already held internal talks to reassess the situation and explore alternative options.

Amazon hasn’t leased or bought space for the project yet which makes it easier to withdraw commitment.

Last November, Amazon announced that it had selected New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for its new HQ2. Jeff Bezos said the two locations would allow the company to attract world-class talent. The $5 billion investment is expected to create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations, with over 25,000 employees each in New York City and Arlington. However, a new Washington Post report suggests Amazon could reconsider its decision to set shop in New York.

A source told the Post: “The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia have been so welcoming.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called Amazon’s decision to open a second HQ an economic triumph for the area when it was first announced.

However, the prospect of 25,000 new jobs in the area with an average annual salary exceeding $150,000 has not dissuaded opposition from certain elected officials and advocacy groups. Opponents  have expressed concern with the tax incentives Amazon has been promised as well as the potential strain on housing and infrastructure.

The company faces a third City Council hearing and a session of New York state’s Public Authorities Control Board.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, is among those who have rallied against the project, according to the Post. Ocasio-Cortez responded to the Post story on Friday and said: “Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the deal and said: “If Amazon does not come to New York, it’s because of the political opposition. Because it is so ironic for Amazon, after they spent one year with everyone seducing them, and everyone courting them, we win and then there’s political opposition.”

New York state is not expected to give Amazon’s plan final approval until 2020.

Plan in Virginia not being reconsidered

Amazon’s proposal in Virginia, where lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to give Amazon up to $750 in subsidies, has received much less pushback in comparison. Amazon’s plan to establish part of its second headquarters in Virginia is not being reconsidered, the Post said.

“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming,” said a person familiar with Amazon’s thinking.

Amazon trying to build positive partnerships in the area

The e-commerce giant has been working on improving the relationship between the company and the local area. It recently hired a public relations firm in New York and started looking for a “senior community affairs manager” to focus on building a positive partnership with community groups, local stakeholders and nonprofits. E-commerce means buying and selling goods and services online. 

Amazon told TechCrunch it is “focused on engaging with our new neighbors – small business owners, educators, and community leaders.”

“Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be,” Amazon added in the statement

However, two sources told the Post that Amazon executives could soon reach an inflection point.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris appeared on CNN and shared his thoughts on the situation:

Soon after the Post report was published an article published by The New York Times said the Post report had “gone too far and Amazon had no plans to back out.”

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