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Amazon backs out of LIC plans, blames political opposition

The tech giant Amazon announced this morning that it will no longer build its HQ2 campus at Long Island City due to overwhelming local opposition.

According to a statement posted on its website, political opposition was ultimately responsible for their decision to back out.

“For Amazon, 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,” their statement read. “While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and 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.”

Amazon said it is not looking to re-open its HQ2 search at this time but will  continue with the other half of the HQ2 project in Northern Virginia and an operations center in Nashville.

It was the controversial search process that landed New York City the HQ2  deal after offering up billions in incentives to the tech giant. That sparked widespread criticism that the city and state were overly generous with tax payers money and  skirting normal land use and zoning procedures to secure the massive tech headquarters.

Rumors of an Amazon u-turn emerged last week when The Washington Post reported Amazon was reconsidering  Long Island City for its so-called HQ2.

Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo supported the project and Cuomo was both critical of naysayers and blamed  “political opposition” for Amazon’s hesitation.

“A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community…the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state,” Cuomo said. “The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

But de Blasio said Amazon was the one losing the opportunity in this move.

“We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world,” de Blasio said. “Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

Commenting on Amazon’s decision to back out of Long Island City this morning, Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks said it was “unfortunate.”

JOHN BANKS

“New York’s renaissance over the past forty years has been due in part to our ability to work through difficult issues that have led to record population and job growth and the emergence of our city as a true global capital,” said Banks. “It’s unfortunate that we have lost out on an opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs for city residents and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue to fund vital services including infrastructure improvements for transportation, schools, and open space.”

The New York Buildings Congress’ president and CEO Carlo Scissura called the city a victim, noting, “Their decision to not build its headquarters here will cost the city tens of thousands of high-quality jobs, leave a lasting, negative economic impact, and send a cautionary message to companies around the world about calling New York home.”

Scissura  added, “We are extremely disappointed that with the majority of New Yorkers supporting Amazon’s selection of Long Island City for its HQ2, political posturing got in the way of good government policy. It is sad that the loud voices of a few can derail an opportunity that would benefit countless people. New York City is the new capital of the tech industry, and this is where Amazon belongs.”

CARLO SCISSURA

On the other side of the fence, Amazon HQ2 opponents were celebrating a victory. “Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory,” Jimmy van Bramer, the area’s council member, said. “Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city and state forever.”

New York Communities for Change, a community organization, said Amazon would do more harm than good.

“#ByeJeff and good riddance! Make no mistake: strong, effective community organizing is what defeated Amazon’s $3 billion backroom deal,” NYCC’s executive director Jonathan Westin, said. “Never again should any of our city or state leaders bend over backwards to give away billions of public dollars to corporations that harm workers and communities.”

This story is developing and will be updated as we get more information.

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