Nate Galt | United States
Amazon has just shockingly announced that it has pulled out of a deal that would move its second headquarters to Long Island City, opposite Manhattan on the East River. It has finally canceled the awaited move due to pressure from community activists and notable politicians, namely from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). After the cancellation of the deal was announced, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez claimed victory for New York’s workers. She took to Twitter to proclaim a win against corporate greed, saying, “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
To her, it did not seem to matter that all data showed that Amazon would have given New York City a net economic benefit. Also, polling data that indicated that the majority of New Yorkers supported the deal was clearly not an issue for her. State and city officials were doing everything they could in order to convince Amazon to move to the city. However, the proposal was met with fierce resistance, primarily by self-proclaimed “progressives” due to concerns about gentrification and corporate welfare.
A New HQ
If Amazon moved its second headquarters to Long Island City in Queens, it would have been given close to 3 billion dollars in subsidies in exchange for creating 25,000 Amazon jobs. Nearly 100,000 jobs would have also been created due to the construction of necessary infrastructure. The city government stated that Amazon would have helped the low-income area around the proposed facility and would have lowered unemployment rates in the neighborhood and city. According to New York State, Amazon would have generated around $27.5 billion in revenue over the next 25 years, which is over 9 times the amount of subsidies it would have received from the city and state.
Proponents of the new facility pointed to this statistic and said that it would be wrong to oppose Amazon’s plans for a new headquarters. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that Amazon would bring unparalleled economic prosperity to the borough of Queens, to the city of New York, and to the state. After the company said that it had plans to build its new campus on Long Island, it was met with staunch opposition. Despite the supposed benefits the technology giant would bring, critics said that more corporate welfare and skyrocketing housing prices next to the proposed complex are not what the city needs.
They noted that real estate prices would go up as a result of many well-paying jobs moving into the area. The average salary for a job at the proposed Amazon facility would have been 150,000 dollars per year. Locals feared that the low-income residents of Long Island City would be priced out of their own neighborhood. Even though city officials were hoping for Amazon to move their headquarters to New York, the pressure was too great, and the plan has been scrapped. New York City will lose billions of dollars in revenue solely because some groups did not like the idea of a tech giant in a low-income area.
The proposed site, in an area zoned for manufacturing, was next to the largest low-income public housing project in New York. The plan would not only have generated thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue but also created a multitude of support businesses which would have dramatically improved the neighborhood. While rent prices may have gone up, the amount of cash and business that Amazon would have brought into one of the city’s most desolate and poor areas would have been a boon for the local economy.
Some of the concerns for the project were valid and should have been addressed in a way that helped the project come to fruition rather than in a populist way- decrying “big corporations” and opposing it at all costs. Now the politicians on the left and the right are squabbling and trying to place the blame for this fiasco on each other. However, the deed is done, and the area remains poor and dilapidated. The cancellation of the Amazon facility was not a victory; rather, it is a major economic loss for New York City and for the state.
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