This Amazon, NYC HQ2 Drama Seems a Bit Fishy
Late last week, the Washington Post (followed by umpteen other local and national news outlets) reported that Amazon is internally discussing the possibility of ditching its plans to open a Long Island-based headquarters after facing backlash from local residents and some city officials. That news follows up on weeks of local posturing by Amazon in the Long Island and surrounding NYC neighborhoods to win public support via local mailings and an all-out charm offensive.
The WaPo report, which cited anonymous sources within the company, said that among the options being considered was ditching New York City altogether in favor of moving the headquarters somewhere else where Amazon would be welcomed with open arms. That’s been the case in Crystal City, right outside of Washington, DC—the other HQ2 campus location—as well as Nashville, where Amazon also plans to open a logistics and operational warehouse. Both of those locations have already passed the proposed incentives packages for Amazon to set up shop, while New York state isn’t expected to approve any incentives packages until 2020, according to the report.
In follow up reports, though, Amazon has tried to remain positive on the prospect that it’ll end up opening its HQ2 campus in the city.
“We're focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators, and community leaders,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNN. “Whether it's building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”
And, conversely, New York developers and top state officials seem to be positive on the ecommerce firm’s plans to stick this thing out. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a major supporter of bringing Amazon to the state’s largest city since the “application process” began almost two years ago.
“We talk with the folks from Amazon all the time,” Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership, the local economic development organization, told CNN. “As far as they say to us, everything is great, they're excited about New York, they're working hard to get to know the community and move things along.”
So, what then is the reasoning behind the sudden internal change of course? Perhaps it’s just a case of Amazon putting pressure on local officials who are in favor of HQ2 to get their fellow elected leaders on board as well. The estimated $1.525 billion incentives package is a major reason for the discontent among those against bringing the ecommerce giant into the city, though those in favor say that package is contingent on the company creating the 25,000 new jobs it promised at an average salary of $150,000. There’s also the question of whether New York City can handle bringing an Amazon HQ2 into town given the infrastructure needs that many residents would rather see that incentive money go towards.
Bottom line, I don’t think hope is lost for Amazon to get to New York City. It’s hit a bit of a speed bump that feels more like some politicking than anything else, but the desire to land in the Big Apple is still there for Amazon. It’s just a matter of ensuring they can still get what they want—which they’ve never really had much of a problem with up to this point in their existence.