New York politicians appear stunned but defiant over Amazon’s abrupt cancellation of move to Long Island City

  • Amazon on Thursday announced it’s cancelling a plan to set up a new headquarters in New York City in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens, stunning local politicians.
  • New York leaders stumbled to respond, and some seemed more pleased than others.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to think Amazon is making a big mistake.
  • “If Amazon can’t recognise what that’s worth, its competitors will,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Amazon on Thursday abruptly announced it’s cancelling plans to build a second headquarters in the New York City borough of Queens, and local politicians seem to be stunned and perturbed by the move.

In a statement on the cancellation, Amazon appeared to blame local political pushback for its decision.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” Amazon said.

“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 statement added.

Many of the responses to Amazon’s decision from New York politicians were defiant in tone, as if to send a message to the tech company that it’s made a huge mistake.

In a statement, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said, “You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbour and do business in the greatest city in the world … If Amazon can’t recognise what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, one of the biggest proponents of the deal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

Local politicians who were among the most vocally opposed to the Amazon plan, including New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson and New York Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, made similar statements in response to Thursday’s big news.

“I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent,” Johnson said.

Similarly, Van Bramer in a tweet said, “When our community fights together, anything is possible, even when we’re up against the biggest corporation in the world. I am proud that we fought for our values, which is a fight for working families, immigrants, & organised labour.”

New York state senator Mike Gianaris, who was also extremely critical of the plan, said Amazon is behaving like a “petulant child.”

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” Gianaris told The New York Times. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.”

New York state Assemblyman Michael Blake of the Bronx told INSIDER he’s hopeful Amazon will reconsider this decision because he believed the plan could be an “economic game-changer” if the mega-company was more willing to address the concerns of local leaders.

Blake, who’s also vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and currently running for Public Advocate in New York City, said, “It is concerning that Amazon would make this decision to withdraw. I have always said that I believe that Amazon could be an economic game-changer.”

Blake added that by walking away Amazon “is not sending the proper message to New Yorkers and to the country.”

The New York assemblyman was among those who signed a 2017 letter to Bezos calling on him to bring Amazon’s new headquarters to the country’s largest city, but he still had concerns about the ultimate plan.

Blake said local leaders simply want to ensure there’s a mutual understanding between Amazon and New York regarding issues such as union protections, the impact on women and minority-owned businesses, local hiring, and public housing.

“The opportunity is still there, this is a moment for responsible leadership,” Blake said. “If we want to help transform NYC to become the next beacon for technology … to raise the economic threshold for so many communities of colour, we are all ready and willing to do that.”

“At the end of the day, the overwhelming number of us were just saying we want to negotiate in good faith,” Blake added, stating he hopes Amazon comes “back to the table.”