Here's how politicians and tech execs are reacting to the surprise news of Amazon pulling HQ2 from New York City

  • Amazon said Thursday it was no longer planning to bring its new headquarters, named HQ2, to New York City.
  • The decision to bring HQ2 to New York was met with fierce backlash from many politicians, local residents, and tech leaders who took aim at HQ2’s effect on housing prices, the major tax breaks New York was giving Amazon, and the company’s treatment of its workers.
  • This is how politicians, policymakers, and tech leaders reacted to the surprise news.

Amazon’s plans to put HQ2 in New York City have been called off, the final culmination of months of criticism directed at the e-commerce giant after it first announced in November that it would open a new headquarters there.

In a blog post Thursday, Amazon said it came to the decision to cancel its plans for New York City “after much deliberation,” and seemingly took aim at politicians who vocally opposed HQ2.

“The commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” the blog post says. “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.”

Amazon announced in November it had chosen to split its much-coveted second headquarters between two sites in New York and Arlington, Virginia.

The news was met with immediate opposition from several sides.Local residents were angry HQ2 would cause traffic to increase, rent prices in the surrounding area to skyrocket, and gentrification of the neighbourhood to speed up. Players in the tech industry slammed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for a lack of transparency in its long 14-month long HQ2 selection process. Developer David Heinemeier Hansson even went as far as to accuse Amazon of extracting “blatant loot” from cities vying for HQ2, and called the company’s actions “utterly becoming.”

Local politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were outraged at the terms of the deal struck between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Amazon, which promised the company billions of dollars in tax breaks as incentive for coming to New York City.New York City Council members were upset they were kept out of the loop regarding discussions for Amazon to come to their city.

But now that plans for HQ2 have been scrapped, many of HQ2’s biggest opponents are celebrating, while proponents are lashing out at Amazon.

Here are some of the reactions coming from politicians and leaders in tech in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2 reversal:


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In a statement, 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. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognise what that’s worth, its competitors will.”


Read more:
Mayor Bill de Blasio slams Amazon for scrapping its HQ2 project in New York City


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “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.”

Asked by a CBS News reporter about her thoughts, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I think it’s incredible! It shows that everyday Americans still have the power to organise … and they can have more to say in this country than the richest man in the world.”


City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

Getty

In a statement posted to Twitter: “I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work though challenging issues New York City is the world’s best place to do business. I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day.”


Read more:
‘I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day’: Key Amazon opponent on New York’s city council speaks out on HQ2 cancellation


Charlie O’Donnell, venture capitalist at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

In a statement, Cuomo said took aim at politicians who opposed HQ2 in New York, and blamed them for causing “tremendous damage.”

“A small group (of) politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community,” Cuomo said. “They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Warren, a candidate for president in 2020, criticised Amazon on Twitter: “[email protected] – one of the wealthiest companies on the planet – just walked away from billions in taxpayer bribes, all because some elected officials in New York aren’t sucking up to them enough. How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage?”


State Sen. Mike Gianaris, from Queens.

Getty/Pacific Press/Contributor

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


City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer

In a statement, Van Bramer 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. Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory. Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city & state forever.”


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Amy Sussman/AP Images for Discovery Communications

Diaz Jr. wrote on Twitter: “It’s unfortunate that @amazon was unwilling to grasp the concept that massive taxpayer subsidies require equivalent concessions to the people providing them. This is a simple aphorism: if you want charity, you have to be charitable.”


Entrepreneur and author Steve Case

Mike Windle/Getty ImagesRevolution CEO Steve Case speaks at the 2016 Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.

Case said on Twitter that he found the decision to pull out of New York “odd.”


City Council member Joe Borelli, from Staten Island.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Borelli wrote on Twitter: “Losing @Amazon is a blow to #NYC. But it really is a blow to the notion of thinking we can be a high tax state and still attract business by dangling crony capitalist tax incentives.”


Texas governor Greg Abbott

Abbott criticised both Amazon and the “liberal backlash.”

“Amazon’s decision to flee NYC because of the liberal backlash is a warning to those pushing socialism: hostility to business is bad for your state,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “Texas is #1 for business and jobs because we promote opportunity not hostility.”


State assembly member Nicole Malliotakis

Responding to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, Malliotakis wrote on Twitter: “You did your constituents who want good paying jobs a disservice! New Yorkers wanted a BETTER deal, not for you to KILL the deal! How do you plan to fulfil your pie in the sky “guaranteed jobs for all” if you are chasing away the job creators??”


Venture capitalist Steve Westly

Steve Westly, who’s a managing partner at his VC firm The Westly Group, noted how much of a concern rising housing prices are for residents in Queens, who would have been impacted by the HQ2 move.


Chelsea Connor, director of communications for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

In a statement, Connor said: “Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do.”


State Senator Julia Salazar, from Brooklyn.

“When we organise, we win,” Salazar wrote on Twitter.


Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC

Tech:NYC, a nonprofit advocating tech-forward policies and government practices, issued a statement on Twitter saying that news of Amazon’s HQ2 reversal is “so disappointing.”

“Amazon’s decision to withdraw from New York is no doubt a blow to our local economy and the tens of thousands of people the company would have employed there,” executive director Julia Samuels said in the statement. “There can be no doubt that bad politics got in the way of good policy here.”


City Council member Eric Ulrich, from Queens.

Ulrich wrote on Twitter: “It never ceases to amaze me how the loud voices of a few, could destroy the chance at a better life for so many. @amazon had big plans in store for the borough of Queens, and we blew it!”


Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York)


City Council member Brad Lander

Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

In his statement, Lander said: “It’s been clear for a long time that Amazon had no intention of respecting New York City’s rules, paying their taxes in full, and being a good neighbour. If their intentions were good, they would have engaged in real dialogue and negotiations, not abruptly pulled out after facing criticism.”


State assembly member Patricia Fahy


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Even though Amazon said in its statement that it wouldn’t be reopening its HQ2 search, politicians from other states have been appealing to Amazon to come to their home states.

In a tweet addressed to Bezos, Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter, “South Carolina would love to have you locate your new HQ here.”


Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren.

In a statement posted to the Rochester city website, Warren pleaded with Amazon to consider the Rochester region for a location for HQ2.

“Amazon’s HQ2 could transform (highway) I-90 into an innovation corridor delivering jobs and opportunity to all of our residents and businesses,” Warren said. “Rochester has an incredible history of tenacity, resilience and innovation – characteristics we share with Amazon.”

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