Yesterday, Amazon released an official statement saying that they will not be opening their second headquarters which was planned for Long Island City, Queens, New York.
The initial finalization to create HQ2 was done in November last year with a promise that opening of the New York headquarters would have generated 25,000 jobs. The deal was negotiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But this decision had stirred public protest against using $3 billion of corporate welfare funds to open Amazon’s HQ2. Senator Mike Gianaris was also against the idea of using the funds to open HQ2 among others.
Due to prolonged protests since the announcement over 3 months, Amazon decided to withdraw their plans of opening HQ2 in Long Island City, Queens, New York. “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”.
Even though many news outlets quoted a Siena College poll that showed the majority of New Yorkers support the idea, the total number of people who participated were 778 throughout the state. Meaning the number was much smaller from Queens city. The poll wasn’t a good representation of the general sentiment of Queens residents which were taken to the streets in protests against HQ2.
The wide negative backlash from the locals made Amazon change its plans. This decision was upsetting for both Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio as it damages their efforts to bring HQ2 in Long Island City. While some rejoice in Amazon’s decision, others are sad about it.
The Amazon HQ2 stunt started with notions that the company might single-handedly turn a city like Pittsburgh or Raleigh, or even Detroit, into a major tech hub, and ended with filling in a bunch of vacant office buildings next to National Airport.
— Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) February 14, 2019
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed very happy about this victory:
Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. https://t.co/nyvm5vtH9k
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019
Some are happy that this ‘national embarrassment’ did not happen:
This is good. The whole process leading up to the selection of NYC for HQ2 was a national embarrassment https://t.co/bsrU3RTkbV
— Wes McKinney (@wesmckinn) February 14, 2019
The protests went beyond just the HQ2 deal and targeted Amazon’s other business policies such as anti-union stance and providing tech support for ICE.
One factor that concerned Amazon executives was how activists in New York City broadened their attacks from the specifics of the deal to the company’s practices far beyond the five boroughs, on unions and working with ICE, per two people familiar with Amazon's decision.
— J. David Goodman (@jdavidgoodman) February 14, 2019
Amazon says that they do not intend to search for an HQ2 site currently. They intend to proceed with their Northern Virginia and Nashville plans. They’ll also be hiring across their 17 corporate offices in USA and Canada.