Amazon has just announced that it will not seek to build a headquarters in Queens after a community-led campaign protesting the $3 billion in corporate welfare Amazon was vying for.
New York Times city hall reporter J. David Goodman broke the news on Twitter, quoting a statement from Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Seth. The Associated Press tweeted that Amazon would not seek to build another campus.
AMAZON CANCELS PLAN TO COME TO NEW YORK
"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 spokeswoman Jodi Seth
— J. David Goodman (@jdavidgoodman) February 14, 2019
Amazon was initially offered a generous corporate welfare package of $1.7 billion from the state of New York, and $1.3 billion from New York City, to build its new headquarters. While some responses to Goodman’s tweet bemoaned that the local resistance to the $3 billion corporate welfare package would cost the city jobs, others pointed out that Google is in the midst of a $1 billion expansion of its Manhattan office, doubling its current staff of 7,000 over the next 10 years, without any corporate welfare from the city or the state.
Some of the outrage didn’t just come from local residents — New York City council speaker Corey Johnson went viral in a recent hearing asking an Amazon representative why it needed billions of dollars in subsidies, including a personal helipad for CEO Jeff Bezos, when its top executive is the richest person in the world and the company itself has a valuation of roughly $1 trillion.
In addition to the billions of dollars in corporate welfare, the land Amazon would have used to build its new campus had already been designated for affordable housing that Queens residents have been clamoring for, which they may now get. New Yorkers may also see some of the money originally meant for Amazon go toward funding the city’s subway system, which is badly in need of repairs and maintenance amid a deficit of nearly $1 billion.
Amazon has already demonstrated that having a headquarters in a large city will lead to a dramatic increase in cost of living for local residents. In Seattle, where Amazon’s flagship campus is located, housing prices doubled between 2012 and 2018. Business Insider estimated that renters could expect a 30 percent increase in monthly rent thanks to Amazon’s second headquarters. And in New York City, where the rent is already Too Damn High, that would likely displace thousands of residents at minimum.
However, in Northern Virginia, where Amazon is building its other new headquarters, lawmakers haven’t been able to give the company tax breaks fast enough. As Grit Post reported in January, the Virginia House of Delegates debated for just nine minutes before voting to pass a $750 million corporate welfare package. that vote came the same day that thousands of teachers converged in the Virginia state capitol to demand better pay, more school funding, and smaller class sizes.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.