Amazon has cancelled its plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City, New York, citing local politician opposition as the reason for its abrupt turnaround.
“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 a statement.
New York – one of two sites selected by Amazon as part of its expansion plans over the next few decades – forfeits about 25,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000 and potentially billions of dollars of tax revenue, leading proponents of the deal to heavily criticise those who thwarted it.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who campaigned hard to secure Amazon’s investment alongside mayor Bill de Blasio, asserted in a statement that the deal’s political opponents “should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity”.
On the opposing side, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the US Democrat congresswoman for North-West Queens and the Bronx and a vocal opponent of the plans, tweeted on February 14:
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbours defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
The scrapped plans follow Amazon’s nationwide location search, which saw hundreds of communities across the US offering attractive tax incentives to entice the tech conglomerate’s investment. The $3bn tax incentive offered to Amazon was the main sticking point for New York politicians and community activists, marking a sharp contrast with the contender communities across the country.
Hopes among these communities of Amazon searching for a new location for its second headquarters were squashed when the company announced “We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time.”
Amazon will proceed with planned investments in north Virginia and Nashville, and says it will “continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the US and Canada”.
Amazon already has more than 5000 employees in New York, and its workforce expansion plans could still lead to some jobs being created in the city.
Amazon was the third most active international investor in 2018, investing an estimated $6.461bn in 78 greenfield FDI projects across 23 countries, according to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets.