Amazon, destination New York and Virginia

Aaron Isaac – Staff Writer

The frenzied bidding war for Amazon’s favor is over. After 14 months of searching, Amazon announced its new headquarters will be in Long Island, New York and Arlington, Virginia.

Current Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington; Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

Many states and cities were left disappointed by the decision. Amazon, valued at nearly one trillion dollars, reported receiving 238 proposals from cities and regions across the United States. Amazon originally promised 50,000 jobs wherever they choose for their new headquarters. When it decided to build two headquarters it also split its promise in half, only promising 25,000 jobs in each state.

Amazon asked for, and was offered, lavish incentives. Pennsylvania offered $4.6 billion of taxpayer funded incentives over 25 years. Newark, N.J.’s proposal offered numerous gifts including tax exemptions and tax credits by the city and the state totalling $7 billion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was so determined to get Amazon to move to New York he said he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes.” Though it likely had no effect on Amazon’s decision, mere hours after his statement, Amazon announced their move to New York.

Governor Cuomo is enthusiastic about Amazon’s promise of “$2.5 billion in Amazon investment” and “25,000 full-time high-paying jobs” according to Amazon’s website.

New York’s bid for Amazon amounted to $1.525 billion, mostly made up of tax credits and up to $1.7 billion if Amazon creates 40,000 jobs. Though New York did not present the most lucrative incentives, they could boast a capable labor force and proximity to out-of-state universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The tax incentives drew a wave of criticism for being too large and being poorly used. Incoming New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Amazon should not be getting taxpayer money “at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need [more] investment, not less”.

The New York Times Editorial Board called the Amazon deal a “Bad Bargain.” They pointed out that Amazon will bring higher property values as well. They suggested that if property values rise too high, residents may be priced out of their neighborhoods. They preferred Amazon to invest in New York’s infrastructure directly and to provide jobs to lower income residents “not just flimsy promises of job training.”

In response to the move, politicians, union members and community members staged a protest in Long Island Park. The gentrification issue was front and center for many of the protestors. City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer said to Vox that it was unacceptable for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to get “a helipad so he doesn’t have to take the damn 7 train.” This is actually true, as a part of the New York deal, the headquarters will put in a helipad specifically for Bezos to fly to the building.

Amazon is hardly the only company to take advantage of incentives. Wisconsin offered Foxconn three billion dollars last year for fewer and less well paying jobs.

Dubbed “HQ2” these new headquarters for Amazon will most likely begin construction in early 2019.