Amazon.com Inc. abruptly scrapped plans to build a major outpost in New York that could have created 25,000 jobs, blaming opposition from local leaders upset by the nearly US$3 billion in incentives promised by state and city politicians, Reuters reports.
The company said on Thursday it did not see consistently “positive, collaborative” relationships with state and local officials. Opponents of the project feared congestion and higher rents in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, and objected to handing billions in incentives to a company run by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man.
State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents Queens and was a vocal critic of the deal, told a news conference on Thursday that the Amazon subsidies were unnecessary.
“This was a shakedown, pure and simple,” he said.
Amazon’s sudden pullout from New York City prompted finger-pointing by Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, the politicians who crafted the deal. Cuomo angrily blamed the loss on local politicians while de Blasio blamed Amazon.
Cuomo said in a statement that a small group of politicians had “put their own narrow political interests” above those of New Yorkers.
The year-long search for its so-called HQ2 culminated in Amazon picking Northern Virginia and New York after hundreds of municipalities, from Newark, N.J. to Indianapolis competed for the coveted tax-dollars and high-wage jobs the project promised.
Amazon said it would not conduct a new headquarters search and would focus on growing at other existing and planned offices. The company already has more than 5,000 employees in New York City and plans to continue to hire there, Amazon said on Thursday.
A Siena College poll conducted earlier this month found 56 percent of registered voters in New York supported the Amazon deal, while 36 percent opposed it.
Some New Yorkers mounted protests after the deal was announced, angered by the US$2.8 billion in incentives promised to Amazon and fearing further gentrification in a neighborhood once favored by artists looking for cheap studio space.
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