Cuomo raps Amazon critics amid report company's rethinking

Amazon rethinks plan for New York HQ amid fierce opposition, report says
Amazon reportedly reconsidering New York location amid growing resistance movement

10 February, 2019

"The question is whether it's worth it if the politicians in NY don't want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming", one person familiar with Amazon's plans told The Washington Post. The lack of land would make scrapping the plans easier, the source told Reuters.

The shares initially dipped when the Washington Post report was posted Friday but then quickly gained back some of the loss.

In response to a request for comment, Amazon appeared to commit itself to the NY project, though didn't explicitly say so.

The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reported that Amazon executives have had internal discussions to reassess the situation in ny and explore alternatives, citing two people familiar with the matter. The report cited two people familiar with the company's thinking. "Don't know if they are actually thinking of leaving NY".

"We're focused on engaging with our new neighbors-small business owners, educators and community leaders", the spokesperson said in an email.

The Inc. executives looked battered after more than an hour of questioning last week about their plans to build an office in NY. The report notes that no plans to officially abandon NY have been made, though there is expected to be a third City Council hearing on the matter later this month. "If Amazon or any organization is looking for a new corporate home, I know everyone involved in this most recent effort stands ready to roll up our sleeves once again". In November, the company announced the other half of the HQ2 project would be located in Northern Virginia.

"I would be happy not to have them", said Terri Gloyd, the co-owner of the LIC Corner Cafe. What this does is help the new employees find an atmosphere in which they will feel comfortable and that their new neighbors will find familiar.

If Amazon does reconsider, it's unclear what their Plan B would be. They oppose the almost $3 billion of financial incentives Amazon won from the city and state, and say the influx of new well-paid workers could push out existing residents and add to congestion on the already overcrowded subway. Amazon is notoriously unfriendly to unions. Back in November, Ocasio-Cortez slammed the project as one benefiting a large outside corporation over local NY residents.

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In one sign of opposition, artists spray-painted Amazon's logo - spelled "AMAZNO" - on streets near the proposed site.

Supported by the NY governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the plan has faced a torrent of opposition from elected officials, activists and unions, angry that the company is set to get up to $3bn in tax breaks and subsidies.

Reacting to the Washington Post report, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday accused the state Senate of "governmental malpractice".

At a contentious City Council meeting last week, Amazon's public policy director Brian Huseman touted the deal's benefits for the city, but also said that Amazon wants to invest in a "community that wants us". "It really feels like this threat of Amazon to leave has been choreographed with the governor" to put pressure on Senate Democrats, he said.

The split second headquarters, which Amazon called HQ2, attracted 238 proposals from across North America in a year-long bidding war. Amazon ended the frenzy by dividing the spoils between the two most powerful U.S. East Coast cities and offering a consolation prize of a 5,000-person center in Nashville, Tennessee.

That year-long search could be starting all over again. The company said it will receive performance-based incentives of $1.525 billion from the state of NY, including an average $48,000 for each job it creates.

Critics also say the project would drive up rent and tax New York's already troubled transit system.

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