NYC leaders beg Amazon to reconsider abandoned HQ2 plans

Kevin Valdez | The Ticker

Kevin Valdez | The Ticker

Noah Fleischman

Amazon is still a trending topic within New York City, with conversations continuing to bubble up among business and community leaders to figure out how to get Amazon to reconsider its decision not to open a second headquarters in Long Island City.

Amazon’s decision to pull out of LIC left the city divided, and groups from both sides are either scrambling to get the company back or make it stay away. An open letter addressed to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was published in The New York Times on March 1 by the group Partnership for New York.

The letter urged Amazon to reconsider and pledged the support of the public and the city.

The letter starts, “New Yorkers do not want to give up on the 25,000 permanent jobs, 11,000 union construction and maintenance jobs, and $28 billion in new tax revenues that Amazon was prepared to bring to our state. A clear majority of New Yorkers support this project and were disappointed by your decision not to proceed.”

The letter, signed by 80 New York union leaders, local officials and business owners is an effort to get Amazon to rethink its decision and potentially bring the headquarters back into New York City as promised. Mayor Bill de Blasio is also on board to help work on the community engagement and the infrastructure investments.

Amid fierce political opposition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also in support of Amazon’s support, saying he would take “personal responsibility” for the state approval process.

The governor is also aggressively contacting Amazon, with pitches to Bezos, along other phone calls to Amazon executives over the past few weeks.

After the advertisement appeared in The New York Times, a group of more than 70 organizations vocalized their opposition on the blog site Medium. “Amazon left the first time around because of fierce vocal opposition, and that opposition still remains,” they said.

Advocacy group Make the Road New York issued a statement in response that chastised the governor’s actions. Citizens of New York were upset over the unfair advantages given to Amazon to operate in Long Island City. With over $3 billion in tax breaks and other government incentives, local lawmakers, unions and citizens were not pleased with the deal. Concerns were also raised over Amazon’s labor practices and its anti-union track record.

As of press time, there has been no sign that Amazon will reconsider its decision. When the company announced that it was reversing its decision, it said in a statement, “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.”