Amazon abruptly abandoned plans on Thursday for a new headquarters in New York that would have brought 25,000 jobs to the city, reversing course after politicians and activists objected to the nearly $3bn in tax breaks promised to what was already one of the world’s richest, most powerful companies.
“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,” a statement published on Amazon’s blog said.
After a year-long bidding battle between more than 200 cities across the United States for the development, which promises to bring 50,000 new jobs to the market, the online retail giant announced last November to split their second headquarters between Long Island City in New York and Arlington in Virginia.
Amazon had planned to spend $5bn on the two new developments and expected to get nearly $3bn in tax credits and incentives, with plans to apply for more.
The online retailer has faced opposition from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the promised tax incentives.
Critics see the project as an extravagant giveaway to one of the world’s biggest companies and argue it won’t provide much direct benefit to most New Yorkers.
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a US Democratic representative from New York, tweeted after Amazon initially made the announcement about the new headquarters. “The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 13, 2018
In its statement on Thursday, Amazon said, “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.”
It added, “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.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters support having an Amazon headquarters, by 57-26 percent. However, they were divided on the incentives: 46 percent in favour, 44 percent against.
In its statement, Amazon eluded to another poll that showed 70 percent of New Yorkers support their plans and investment. The poll source was not mentioned.
Thursday’s announcement was a serious blow to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who lobbied intensely to land the campus within city limits.
Amazon says it does not plan to look for another location at this time and will continue with plans to build offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.
The Arlington campus was expected to be the same size as the New York one, with 25,000 employees. The Nashville office is expected to have 5,000 employees.
“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion – we love New York,” the company said in their statement, adding that it already has 5,000 employees in the city and plans to grow those teams.