- Amazon representatives tried to assuage the fears of New York City council members during the second hearing discussing the company’s HQ2 project.
- The company pledged to reach out to small businesses, offer customer-service jobs to residents of local public-housing developments, and work on secondary and higher education initiatives.
- Council members largely criticised or ignored Amazon’s initiatives.
Amazon is going on the defensive with its HQ2 project.
Company representatives tried to assuage the fears of New York City council members and the public at large with a few newly announced promises and proposals during the second council hearing discussing Amazon’s HQ2 project.
The multi-pronged defence ranged from a pledge to reach out to small businesses, offer customer-service jobs to residents of local public housing developments, and work on secondary and higher education initiatives.
“We were invited to come to New York, and we want to invest in a community that wants us,” Brian Huseman, VP of public policy at Amazon, said in prepared remarks. “That’s why we’re excited to announce several new developments since we were last before the City Council.”
First up was an announcement that it has begun the process of reaching out to small businesses in the Long Island City area to discuss partnerships. Since Amazon does not provide catered lunch, Amazon employees would need lunch options, which local businesses could provide.
Amazon also pledged to hire residents of New York City’s public housing projects, focusing on Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Woodside, and Astoria Houses, which are near Amazon’s proposed location.
“Today, we are announcing that we are beginning a program to hire NYCHA residents for jobs in our award-winning customer service department,” Huseman said. “This program is not only good for Long Island City and NYCHA residents, but it’s good for Amazon, and we’re excited to access this terrific talent pool.”
These are technically the first confirmed jobs that have been announced for HQ2.
Amazon also announced it will help develop a certificate program for local colleges CUNY and SUNY. The program is focused on cloud computing technology, and Amazon says it will enable students to reach entry-level jobs in a fast-growing field. Classes will begin in the fall, it said.
The other education initiative is focused on New York high schools, integrating with the Amazon Future Engineer program. The company said it will partner with 130 high schools to enable enhanced consumer science curriculum and scholarships for students.
Many city council members were unimpressed with Amazon’s offers.
Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the district where Amazon’s HQ2 will reside, was particularly critical. Van Bramer praised the developments but questioned the company’s tactic of sending mailers to Queens addresses to drum up support for the project.
“Here’s some advice: stop sending them. They are not working,” Van Bramer said, adding that his constituents have been opposed to Amazon deal by a margin of two to one.
“Opposition is growing. Save the trees.”
- Read more about Amazon HQ2 in New York City:
- ‘This isn’t a done deal’: New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson lays out his plan to avoid being ‘played’ by Amazon
- Amazon’s HQ2 saga was the biggest troll of the year
- A New York City Council member asked Amazon if it showed a reporter his wish list, and it reveals a misconception many customers have
- ‘Do you realise how out of touch that seems?’: NYC lawmakers rail against Amazon for HQ2 helipad demand in heated hearing
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