Amazon’s announcement that it was pulling out of a planned 25,000-person “HQ2” in New York City elicited a wave of shock and surprise from coast to coast on Thursday morning.
The decision from the Seattle-based tech giant to not set up a large office in the Long Island City section of Queens, N.Y., drew celebration from activists, frustration from officials who worked on the deal, concern from economic observers and an immediate effort by rival politicians to secure some of those Amazon jobs.
RELATED: In stunning reversal, Amazon drops plans for HQ2 in New York City in the face of growing backlash
“This is a stunning development, with Amazon essentially giving in to vocal critics …,” Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said. “Now, all of the prospective employees who would have otherwise been hired, all of the small businesses that would have benefited from Amazon’s Queens presence and indeed state and local governments looking forward to tax revenues, as well as the broader community, will miss out from improved growth prospects.
“This outcome could also prompt other businesses to think twice before setting up shop or expanding in the region,” he added. “The alternative sites which were part of the earlier announcement, Northern Virginia and Nashville, could well benefit with even more jobs than planned.”
New York, as arguably the capital of world commerce, will be fine without Amazon, others said.
“New York’s renaissance over the past 40 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 John H. Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “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. Nevertheless, New York City is still open for business and will retain its status as a world class center for tech and innovation.”
Amazon was eligible for up to $3 billion in government incentives in exchange for job creation and community development projects associated with the Queens campus. But the resistance from some elected officials was apparently enough to derail the deal and make Amazon leave those incentives on the table.
Jamila Brown, the New York City-based communications director for SumOfUs, an international consumer watchdog organization, issued a statement, calling Amazon’s announcement “an incredible victory for communities across the country who have been resisting this corporate behemoth since day one. If elected officials in Nashville and Northern Virginia have learned anything from this fight, we hope it’s that offering corporate welfare to giant companies with highly questionable records of social responsibility is a mistake.
“Jobs are important, but not if they come at the cost of people who are struggling to get by,” Brown added. “New York should take the more than $3 billion in tax incentives it would have given to Amazon and invest that money in our communities. Similarly, we support the resistance against Amazon’s HQ2, because we believe in a safe and sustainable future for U.S. cities that we know Amazon is at odds with.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio questioned Amazon’s toughness in a tweet, saying the city gave the company a chance to be a fixture there, but “Amazon threw away that opportunity.” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also chimed in, saying that he hopes this situation with Amazon is the “start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent.”
You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 14, 2019
My statement on Amazon pic.twitter.com/zzj3J2xbKz
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) February 14, 2019
Showing just how important Amazon has become on the political stage, representatives local and national, from all sides of the aisle commented on the decision. Some applauded New York’s resistance and others began trying to recruit the tech giant to their home turf.
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. https://t.co/nyvm5vtH9k
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019
Huge congrats to working people's movement in NYC for showing that building grassroots fightback can win! Shame on Seattle's politicians for repealing the small Amazon tax to fund affordable housing. NYC's victory reminds us, we need to keep fighting here!https://t.co/lcfmjZ8v85
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) February 14, 2019
.@Amazon – one of the wealthiest companies on the planet – just walked away from billions in taxpayer bribes, all because some elected officials in New York aren't sucking up to them enough. How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage? https://t.co/O9pz7en43B
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 14, 2019
South Carolina would love to have you locate your new HQ here.
South Carolina is a great place to do business!https://t.co/icR2eIAHVz
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 14, 2019
— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) February 14, 2019
And of course, there was some good internet snark.
I'll give you this, Amazon: Telling people you're going to Queens and then bailing is one thing New Yorkers can relate to.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) February 14, 2019
Amazon breaks up with NYC on Valentine's Day.
— Dan Primack (@danprimack) February 14, 2019
Y’all should have known that Amazon in NYC wasn’t going to work out when the renderings had people KAYAKING IN THE EAST RIVER. pic.twitter.com/i7VLlTcQRD
— Zachary Slater (@zacharyslater) February 14, 2019
Amazon Considering Moving To New Jersey Instead But Will Tell New Friends At College It's From The "New York Area," Sources Say
— S.P. Sullivan (@spsullivan) February 14, 2019