Ocasio-Cortez cheers as Amazon reportedly reconsiders NY HQ after fierce opposition

Posted February 10, 2019

It looks like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (shown above left) might have her way after all - Amazon is reconsidering building its second headquarters in New York City, according to a report from The Washington Post.

No decision has yet been made, but executives have discussed pulling out the deal and are exploring alternative locations, two people "familiar with the company's thinking" said.

"We're focused on engaging with our new neighbors - small business owners, educators, and community leaders", it said. "Whether it's building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be", said Amazon spokesman Jodi Seth.

Meanwhile, city council members last week pressed executives on their plans and criticized Amazon for being an anti-union company (New York is largely a pro-labor city). Each city was expected to have more than 25,000 workers over time.

The Post story said Amazon has not leased or purchased office space in NY.

In November, the online retailer announced that it has chosen two locations for its new HQ2 project, one in Long Island City, and a second in Virginia.

For his own part, Cuomo said at the time, "New York can proudly say that we have attracted one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in USA history". But the local legislature is powerless to stop the Long Island City campus from advancing, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Empire State Development has put the development into a "general project plan", which bypasses municipal zoning and land use regulations. It also ignited a frenzy over real estate in both cities.

It can also apply for other tax incentives, such as New York City's Relocation and Employment Assistance Program that offers tax breaks potentially worth $900 million over 12 years.

Another criticism of the planned headquarters is that Amazon will be given many tax breaks to move in, which seems unfair considering the company is one of the wealthiest organizations on the planet.

Those critics got new hope earlier this week when New York State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who is a vocal critic of HQ2, was recommended to serve on the Public Authorities Control Board. It's had some success in the past blocking major projects.

Amazon may be getting cold feet and be ready to backpedal out of its plan to build a new campus in New York City.

Could political resistance to, what critics denounce as "corporate welfare" in NY create an opening for Chicago to re-enter the Amazon sweepstakes? "You're not there to play politics, you're there to do what's right for the people of the State of NY and what they did here is wrong".

On the other hand, Amazon has significant backing in the form of Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. For Queens, the company has already printed out and mailed flyers to residents highlighting the economic benefits of its NY expansion. Danny Solis (25th) and signed off on that $7 billion South Loop development and created a new tax-increment financing district to bankroll infrastructure improvements needed to unlock the development potential of the long-dormant site at Roosevelt and Clark.

"I think it's really encouraging to show that government and all of us primarily have a responsibility to the communities that we directly impact", Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Friday.