Amazon chooses Long Island City as 1 of 2 new HQ locations

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Jim Dolan reports on the deal bringing Amazon to Long Island City.

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (WABC) -- Amazon's second headquarters will be split between Long Island City in Queens and Arlington County, Virginia's Crystal City, the company announced Tuesday morning.

Amazon will invest $5 billion to create more than 50,000 new jobs between the two new locations.

There's been intense competition to win over Amazon, with more than 100 cities across the country competing and some throwing billions in tax incentives to the company.

Amazon kicked off its hunt for a second headquarters in September 2017, initially receiving 238 proposals before narrowing the list to 20 in January.

Long Island City and Crystal City met Amazon's requirements for a new locale: Both are near metropolitan areas with more than a million people, have nearby international airports, direct access to mass transit and have room for the company to expand.

New York, already a financial and media powerhouse, has been trying to attract more tech workers. And northern Virginia has been looking to fill its 1980s-era buildings after thousands of federal employees moved elsewhere.

Amazon said Seattle will remain as one of Amazon's three headquarters.

Governor Cuomo was steadfast in trying to do whatever it takes to get Amazon to commit to New York.

"We've put together a very strong incentive package and we've had great meetings. Anything I can think of that'll get us over the top. Anything they want named Amazon. I'll change my name to Amazon if that's what it takes," he said.

"The city is not providing subsidies. We do not believe in subsidies to corporations for retention or to attract corporations," Mayor Bill de Blasio had said. "That's a very strong view that I hold."

The company is set to received a performance-based tax incentive based on job creation as part of New York State's Excelsior Program. This includes a refundable tax credit of up to $1.2 billion calculated as a percentage of salaries Amazon expects to pay over 10 years, which equates to $48,000 per job for 25,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000. Also, a cash grant of $325 million based on the square footage of buildings occupied in the next 10 years.

The extra space will help the rapidly growing company. Launched in 1995 as an online bookstore, Amazon now produces movies, makes voice-activated Echo devices, runs the Whole Foods grocery chain, offers online services to businesses and designs its own brands of furniture, clothing and diapers.

There is a "No to Amazon HQ2" protest set for Wednesday as some are concerned about the impact the such a big project will have on housing and traffic.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents the area, called the incentives offered nothing more than "corporate welfare" for one of the richest companies in the world. He said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

"The Amazon deal is bad, the Amazon deal should not go through," said Gianaris, who was at a community meeting Tuesday where people were opposed to the deal.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson released the following statement:

"Amazon is one of the richest companies in the world, but you can't put a price on community input, which has been missing throughout this entire process. I find that lack of engagement and the fact that the negotiations excluded the City Council - which is elected by New Yorkers to guide land use projects with communities in mind - extremely troubling. I also don't understand why a company as rich as Amazon would need nearly $2 billion in public money for its expansion plans at a time when New York desperately needs money for affordable housing, transportation, infrastructure and education. I will always advocate for economic development and jobs in New York, but when the process is done behind closed doors, with zero community input and nearly $2 billion in subsidies to a global behemoth, I am going to be skeptical. I have not been briefed on this plan, so I will withhold full judgement until I am. I look forward to reviewing the full details of the package when available with Council Member Van Bramer and Council Member Vallone - Chair of our Economic Development Committee - to determine whether this proposal is in the best interests of the City. For now, all I can say is I am very concerned."

Newly elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in on social media:

Amazon's workforce has ballooned to more than 610,000 worldwide, and that's expected to increase as it builds more warehouses across the country to keep up with online orders. The company recently announced that it would pay all its workers at least $15 an hour, but the employees at its second headquarters will be paid a lot more.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


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