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Amazon cuts ties with Queens

One can almost always find Amazon packages lying on doorsteps or Amazon vans driving down the street, but one place Amazon won’t be found is in Long Island City, Queens. Back in September 2017, The New York Times reported that Amazon, the technological merchandising giant had announced that it was looking create a second headquarters. Of course, many cities jumped at the opportunity to host Amazon, whose founder and CEO is Jeff Bezos. Amazon ended up dividing the intended headquarters into two, finally deciding to locate to both Virginia and Queens, New York. However, this past February, all changed as Amazon put out a statement saying that it would be retracting from the deal.  

“While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment,” said a statement on Amazon’s blog, “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.”  

They then thanked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, among other supportive politicians, for their efforts in attempting to bring Amazon to New York.

The governor, mayor, local Republicans and businesses were major proponents of this deal since Amazon said it would’ve provided over 25,000 jobs. Moreover, The New York Times noted that the deal was expected to help “diversify” and bring the tech business into the NYC economy. It was also projected by a New York Post report that the deal would’ve brought an additional $27 billion in tax revenue to the state over 25 years. In return the state and city were going to give Amazon $3 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks.

A. Stern, a senior and psychology major at Queens College echoed how big the news of the loss was for hopeful workers.  

“It’s bad that Amazon isn’t coming to Long Island City, because if it would come it would create many more jobs and create more taxes for the city. So, now that they’re not coming, they’re not bringing that benefit,” said Stern.  

On the other hand, R.T., a freshman and psychology major at Queens College saw things differently.  

“For the people of Long Island City, the deal would have made their lives a mess. Rent would have increased and local stores would be forced to shut down. The infrastructure needed [such as subways] to accommodate such a plan would have required an insane amount of time money and energy that I don’t believe the backers of this plan considered as well as they could have,” said R.T. “Overall, I’m happy for the people of Long Island City because they’re able to keep their status quo. I consider it a win for the people.”

Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer expressed disapproval of the deal. He listed reasons such as not agreeing with the way negotiations were conducted – between the governor, mayor and Amazon behind closed doors – along with Amazon’s anti-union approach, and interactions with ICE reports CBS News.  

State Senator Michael Gianaris of Long Island City also disagreed with the closed-door negotiations and were not fans of the tax breaks and subsidies that were going to be awarded to the company, wrote the New York Post. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) was also vehemently against the deal and congratulated its failure, tweeting, “Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” reports CBS News.  Though the deal is currently off, there has been talk of resuscitating the deal. According to CNBC, on March 1, the heads of approximately 80 union leaders, business leaders and politicians in New York put out a letter in The New York Times asking Amazon to reconsider its decision. Governor Cuomo has also been in touch with Bezos and other executives to try to get the company to renege on its decision. Amazon has not acceded, but will focus on its other locations stating, “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.”  

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