Nassau politicians blast Amazon decision to cancel Queens HQ

Janelle Clausen
New York was one of 20 locations on Amazon's shortlist for their second headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)
New York was one of 20 locations on Amazon's shortlist for their second headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Nassau County officials blasted Amazon’s decision to not locate a headquarters in Long Island City in response to local opposition on Thursday, describing the move as one that cost Long Islanders valuable, high-paying jobs.

“On behalf of all of Nassau County, I want to express deep disappointment in Amazon’s decision to cancel its planned move to Queens,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “Long Island was poised to reap enormous benefits from the move, which would have brought a flood of new high-wage jobs, business development, and much-needed tax revenue to the entire decision.”

New York politicians like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio had tried luring Amazon, which planned to create a new headquarters in Long Island City, with offers of tax breaks and incentives totaling $3 billion.

Amazon anticipated that its move would have created at least 25,000 jobs with an average salary of $150,000 over 10 years, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office expected the move would generate $27 billion in tax revenue.

But many activists and some politicians representing the area also criticized the deal, expressing alarm about gentrification, the size of the tax breaks for such a large company, and the potential impact on local home values, traffic and schools.

Some were also critical about how the deal was negotiated without the input of those who would be immediately impacted.

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris, a critic of the deal and deputy majority leader of the New York State Senate, told the New York Times. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.”

In a statement, Amazon said “the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local officials who will be supportive over the long term.”

“While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans an investment, 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,” the company said.

About 56 percent of state voters supported offering incentives to attract Amazon, according to a Siena College poll conducted Feb. 4 to Feb. 7.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said Amazon “would have been a game-changer for surrounding communities” and implored the company to “reconsider its decision,” as most New Yorkers want the company here and “the rewards would be considerably more worthwhile than moving to less populous parts of the country.”

“Hempstead Town, located approximately 15 miles away from Long Island City, would have benefited greatly from Amazon’s planned development and job creation package,” Gillen said. “I’m horrified and appalled that a small faction of local officials sought to kill an effort that was certain to bring countless economic benefits to millions of New Yorkers, including many in the Town of Hempstead.”

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said he was “very disappointed” in Amazon’s decision, but said Nassau County could still reap some benefits.

“I have asked [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos to move Amazon to Nassau County, where we have a highly skilled workforce, diverse housing options and sustainable infrastructure,” Nicolello said. “The high paying jobs and economic boost that Amazin brings will help Nassau County residents and businesses and make this County more affordable to those who can’t afford New York State’s high taxes.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who represents the North Shore in the U.S. House of Representatives, said “New York needs an attitude adjustment” and called Amazon’s decision “a huge loss for New York and Long Island.”

“When you are from Michigan, you do not attack the automakers; when you are from Iowa, you do not attack the corn industry; and when you are from California, you do not attack Silicon Valley,” Suozzi said. “Yet, in New York we are very cavalier and short-sighted in attacking these job creators and state revenue generators.”

Anna Kaplan, who represents the North Shore in the New York State Senate and chairs its commerce, economic development and small business committee, said the loss “will have a devastating impact.”

“There should be no celebration in a loss of opportunity for New Yorkers, nor celebration in the loss of economic activity which would have gone a long way towards providing the improvements to local infrastructure we sorely need,” Kaplan said. “We can’t afford to let perfection be the enemy of progress, nor allow politics to rise above the people’s best interest.”


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