On Nov. 13, 2018 Amazon officially announced their decision to open two new HQ2 locations in Long Island City, Queens NY and Crystal City in Arlington, Virgina.
After a year of searching for second headquarter location, Amazon has finalized plans to open two new headquarters in two different areas. Each location will bring in around 50,000 employees. These employees are expected to be high-tech workers, such as data engineers and information technology professionals.
The ever-growing online company sought out Crystal City because of its proximity to Washington D.C., their great transit system, and since it is a hub for recent college grads. Similarly, Long Island City was chosen because of its proximity to Manhattan and it’s vibrant, ever-changing community as the neighborhood continues to build high-rise apartment buildings.
Another incentive to choose these locations may be because Amazon was also offered more than $2 billion in tax incentives from New York and Virginia, in comparison to lesser offers from other states. Up to $1.2 billion of that will come from New York State’s Excelsior Program, a discretionary tax credit.
In Virginia, the company could receive up to $550 million in cash incentives from the state by 2030, and $200 million more after that if it continues to hire. Both state programs are bound to the number of jobs the company develops — if Amazon’s employment falls short of projections, the incentive payments will be smaller.
Not everyone is happy about Amazon coming to Queens. Dana Singh, a senior majoring in English said, “Well I’m on the fence about the whole thing because I understand that Amazon is trying to create jobs for people, they’ve even reached out to me on occasion to ask me if I would be interested in joining. The problem I have with it is that it’s going to take away from small business owners. My parents own a small business of their own. They sell auto parts for cars. We have lost a lot of business over the years to Amazon and other online competitors. People are even buying their groceries through Amazon, which I think it’s ridiculous. It’s making people really lazy, and it’s shutting down businesses all over.”
Amazon plans to place its Long Island City headquarters near the waterfront, between 46th Avenue and 44th road. However, only 5 blocks away from the projected HQ2 location are Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the Western Hemisphere. The income gap between those living in the newly developed Long Island City and those living in the surrounding areas right now can already be seen, and it is only going to increase when Amazon moves in.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), was taken by surprise when he heard about the decision. He said “The gap between the have and the have-nots has only increased after Amazon settled into part of Seattle, only inflating housing prices and hurting middle class families. The same thing is going to happen here.”
Amazon seems to understand these concerns, as they have already mentioned plans to hold internships and “career exploration” activities for public high school students, including “career days, mock interviews, site visits and other work-based learning opportunities.” They also plan to hold or participate in semi-annual job fairs and resume workshops at the Queensbridge Houses to promote employment opportunities for three years starting in 2020. After the three years, Amazon says it will “collaborate in good faith to determine additional measures to support NYCHA tenants.”
However, there also many people who are excited for Amazon to come to Queens. Courtney Hakimian, an undeclared freshman, says, “I think Amazon’s presence could help the area by making it a more prominent business and tech hub.” The new location will bring plenty of high-paying job opportunities to New Yorkers and that will bring in plenty of money not just in the pockets of the New Yorkers that are employed but also to the pockets of the surrounding businesses and New York as a whole.
Only time will tell how this will affect the locations of each HQ2. It is estimated that the HQ2 in Long Island City will open up sometime in 2020.