Responding to a growing backlash, Amazon is officially abandoning its plans to build a new base of operations in New York. The company had planned to split its second headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” between New York and Northern Virginia. On Thursday, Amazon said it wouldn’t be looking for an alternative location for the now-abandoned New York campus.
“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. “We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.”
Amazon had faced scrutiny for receiving over $3 billion in tax and other incentives, and was heavily courted by state officials while it went through a public application process for its HQ2 location. At one point, New York governor Andrew Cuomo even suggested that he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” to win the company’s contract. However, the deal was opposed by a number of local politicians, as well as high-profile progressive Democrats including representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who celebrated the company’s decision with a tweet:
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
On Thursday, Amazon blamed officials for torpedoing its plans. “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,” the company said in its statement.
Amazon also said that it wasn’t going to give up on New York altogether: “There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.”
Amazon’s primary headquarters has been in Seattle ever since the company was founded in 1994. The company had called for a public application process to build its second headquarter, and got over 200 cities to participate, with many offering lucrative tax incentives to attract the e-commerce giant.
The company announced a decision to split HQ2 between Northern Virginia and New York in November, and at the time suggested that it would create as many as 25,000 jobs in each location.
Jimmy Van Bramer, the New York City Council member who represents the area in Queens, was among the loudest voices opposing the headquarters deal, on the grounds that the state should not be handing tax breaks to one of the world’s largest corporations.
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Van Bramer also raised concerns about Amazon’s track record in dealing with unions and in what they perceived to be a lack of hard commitments from Amazon to invest in infrastructure and services in Long Island City and environs. And they faulted Cuomo for negotiating the deal in secret without input from Queens legislators.
“Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city & state forever,” Van Bramer wrote on Twitter after Amazon announced its decision.
Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory. Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city & state forever.
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) February 14, 2019