Amazon Pulls Out of New York Headquarter Plans

Amazon’s HQ2 plans unwittingly set off a debate about giant corporations’ lack of transparency, and how taxpayer funds can be exploited for their profits.

New Yorkers protest Amazon expansion plans in December. (Courtesy photo)

Amazon has given up on opening another set of headquarters in New York City, the giant online retailer announced Thursday. 

The corporation pitted cities nationwide and their taxpayer funds against one another in 2017 for a headquarter expansion, eventually settling on Long Island, Queens and Northern Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. area. But the decision was met with rather unwelcome reception in New York City, which is already battling high cost of living and displacement, for its lack of transparency and $3 billion in tax breaks.

Mounting opposition came to a head earlier this month when the state’s new Senate majority leader, Andrew Stewart-Cousins, defied Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio by appointing a fierce critic of the plans, state Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, to an obscure state board with the power to veto the plan. Instead of spending the time and resources to develop a plan that may not have been approved, Amazon pulled out of New York altogether.

“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,” the company stated Thursday. 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.”

It should be noted that the poll was released by a firm commissioned by Amazon, the New York Times reported. Still, a majority of New Yorkers polled by Quinnipiac University by did support the plan — 57 percent to 26 percent opposed.

But residents protested the tax incentives and expressed anxiety over displacement from wealthy tech companies, akin to San Francisco. The plans drew criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who cheered as opposition gained ground.

“Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier this month. “Yes, they can.”

Amazon has more than 5,000 employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. They will not reopen the search for HQ2, at least while they plan expansions to Virginia and Nashville, Tenn.

View Comments