After a year-long search, Amazon announced this week it will build new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens and Arlington, Virginia.
Reaction from state and local officials is mixed.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded what they are calling the largest economic development project in New York state history. Amazon has promised to create 25,000 to 40,000 new jobs with an average salary of more than $150,000, invest more than $3.6 billion over 15 years and create $27.5 billion in tax revenue over 25 years.
“The key for a state or a region or a city — you want to be ahead of the economic curve,” Gov. Cuomo said at the announcement on Tuesday. “Who is attracting the businesses of tomorrow, today? And that is the city, the state, the region, that will flourish.
“Economic development is the engine that pulls the train, period. Either you are creating jobs or you are losing jobs. Either you are part of the economy of tomorrow or you are part of the economy of yesterday. This is a competition and for us, this is about being part of the economy of tomorrow.”
The selection for choosing which North American city would house the new Amazon corporate HQ was a fierce, competitive process that took one full year — 238 cities hoped to be chosen as the new center for the multibillion-dollar development.
“This was a very difficult process. As I mentioned, [54 states, provinces and districts] supposedly competed. We know from public information that many of the states and cities were offering more in economic incentives than we were offering,” Gov. Cuomo said about the process. “We believe that we had other benefits that were inherent to what we were already doing, and with the arrogance of a New Yorker, inherent to New York.”
Amazon’s new venture is estimated to create more than 107,000 total direct and indirect jobs. The company will fill at least 25,000 jobs by 2029 hiring directly from the New York workforce. By 2034, they expect to increase their labor force to 40,000 workers. Construction alone is expected to create an average of 1,300 jobs annually through 2033.
“The number one thing we can do for New Yorkers at every rung of the economic ladder is create jobs, and the number one way to do that is to bring companies like Amazon to New York,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
New York paid $3.6 billion in investment to Amazon as part of the deal to build in Queens. If employment rates and tax revenue growth increases as predicted, New York can expect a 9:1 return on investment, the governor’s office said..
Public officials from across the state welcomed Amazon’s decision to base their new headquarters on the East Coast.
“Amazon’s decision to locate its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens marks the largest economic development project in the state’s history and is a testament that New York is open for business,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The announcement was met with criticism by the association that represents brick and mortar retail stores.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said it was “embarrassing” that a great city had to beg the company to choose them for their headquarters by offering handouts.
Some state and local officials criticized the decision to lure Amazon here with tax dollars while New York is facing other economic troubles.
“New Yorkers have real unmet needs from their government. Our subways are crumbling, our children lack school seats and too many of our neighbors lack adequate health care,” said Senator Michael Gianaris and New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in a joint statement. “It is unfathomable that we would sign a $3 billion check to Amazon in the face of these challenges.”
Sen. John Flanagan, the current Senate majority leader, notes that the Legislature was not involved in creating this economic development deal. He said lower taxes, cheaper energy and fewer regulations would be a better economic development policy than “chasing the headlines.”
“Amazon is arguably one of the most profitable companies in the world,” Flanagan said. “They and others should want to come to New York because the economic climate helps them succeed, not because taxpayer handouts did.”