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Ama-gone: Cuomo Says 'Small Group Of Politicians' Caused Collapse Of Planned H2Q

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: Provided

Amazon’s shocking decision to back out of a deal to set up shop in New York has Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointing fingers at “a small group of politicians.”

The online retail behemoth announced on Thursday that it is no longer planning to construct a new headquarters in Long Island City, bringing more than 25,000 jobs to the region. The company said that despite the support of New Yorkers, it has decided to only move forward with their new campus in northern Virginia.

“After much thought and deliberation, we've decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company said in a statement released on Feb. 14. "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.

“While polls show that 70 percent 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’s decision to opt out of their plans in New York has fueled the fires of other cities and states that missed out on HQ2 the first time around. Despite states’ reported interest, Amazon has said it doesn’t plan to look for a new location, and will instead focus on Virginia.

"Amazon chose to come to New York because we are the capital of the world and the best place to do business. We competed in and won the most hotly contested national economic development competition in the United States, resulting in at least 25,000 (to) 40,000 good paying jobs for our state and nearly $30 billion dollars in new revenue to fund transit improvements, new housing, schools and countless other quality of life improvements,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“Bringing Amazon to New York diversified our economy away from real estate and Wall Street, further cementing our status as an emerging center for tech and was an extraordinary economic win not just for Queens and New York City, but for the entire region, from Long Island to Albany's nanotech center.”

Following Amazon’s announcement, Cuomo came out swinging, stating that some politicians have put their own interests above their communities, leading to the retailer to reconsider their plan, which included billions of dollars in subsidies.

“A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community -- which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City -- the state's economic future and the best interests of the people of this state. The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity,” he added.

"The fundamentals of New York's business climate and community that attracted Amazon to be here - our talent pool, world-class education system, commitment to diversity and progressivism - remain and we won't be deterred as we continue to attract world-class business to communities across New York State."

Among those who spoke out against Amazon's new headquarters was newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 2007 Yorktown High School graduate.

"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," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted shortly after Amazon announced it was pulling out of the deal.

Advocacy group Reinvent Albany said, "state lawmakers and advocates should not lose sight of the real issue. Our economic development programs are in need of review to determine whether they are even effective. The outcome of one deal is inconsequential without a larger examination of the very programs that Amazon already benefits from.

"Amazon didn’t plan to come to Long Island City, Queens because of $3B in State and City subsidies - other cities, including nearby Newark, offered twice that. The Amazon deal did not fail because of a lack of subsidies. It failed because some union leaders couldn’t get Amazon to agree to concessions with national implications for its businesses.

"Amazon already has 5,000 employees in New York City for which it receives some of the very subsidies it would have received for HQ2. Despite their tone-deaf national search designed to extort the greatest possible concessions for local taxpayers, we think their decision not to add another 25,000 to 40,000 jobs is regrettable. New York City is a great place to do business and is a leading global technology job center."

Mike Oates, the President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corportation added, "while Gov. Cuomo and Mayor (Bill) DeBlasio, along with Empire State Development and others, worked hard to successfully attract one of the world’s most successful companies, short-sighted politicians clearly did not understand the value of incentives that were performance based. This could have meant 25,000 high quality jobs with an average salary of $150,000. This is like fumbling the football on the one-yard line in the Super Bowl.

"This will have far-reaching effects in New York, including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. New York will have to work even harder in the future to offset this negative outcome. As New Yorkers, we need to come together to embrace opportunities in the future."

Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo and the Village of Suffern made an application to place Amazon’s HQ2 on the former Novartis campus which sits on Old Mill Road and Route 59 in Suffern and Hemion Road in Montebello.

“Unlike Long Island City, Rockland County is open for business," County Executive Ed Day said. "We are confident that we can offer all that is needed by Amazon; including airports in adjoining counties and a business-friendly environment.

"We will be happy to arrange an executive level meeting to review any and all concerns they may have and share with them the potential that exists here in Rockland. Don’t let the unwelcoming and shortsighted actions of a few tarnish the great possibilities that exist elsewhere in New York.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson noted, "Amazon’s decision to pull out of New York represents a missed opportunity for the metropolitan area, and is a victory of emotion over reason. The Long Island City plan would have strengthened and diversified the New York economy, created tens of thousands of jobs, and generated billions in new public revenue, while also bolstering the market for housing and services in suburban areas, including New Rochelle and the other cities of Westchester. While disappointed by this turn of events, New Rochelle will continue working to foster a positive investment climate, welcome new businesses, and ensure that prosperity is shared in an inclusive and equitable fashion."

On Facebook, Mount Vernon City Councilman and mayoral hopeful Lydon Williams posted that he believes Amazon should work with local and state lawmakers to circle back around to a reunion in New York.

"I believe that Amazon would have been economically beneficial to (New York State) because of the state's over-reliance on the financial services industry. Combining financial and technology industries provide economic diversity that cushions against a recession or economic downturn in one industry or the other. The financial incentives to Amazon should have been structured with appropriate 'clawback' provisions to limited the state's downside. I believe that Amazon should have been willing to negotiate with the elected officials to reach a workable compromise. Amazon chose (New York State) because this state best fitted the company's business model. It should have been willing to stay the course."

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