Governor Cuomo Asks Amazon to Return to New York

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On March 1, the New York Times published an open letter from Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed to Jeff Bezos asking Amazon to come back to New York.

The governor’s letter followed Amazon’s February decision to cancel plans to establish one of its two new corporate headquarters in Queens, New York. That decision followed spirited opposition from New York lawmakers and community members.

The announcement in November 2018 that Amazon had decided to split its second headquarters between Long Island City, Queens, and Crystal City, Virginia, concluded a highly publicized search that began in September 2017, with 238 candidate cities and states bidding to become the site for HQ2. The company had said it would divide operations evenly between the two chosen sites, with more than 25,000 employees in each city. Amazon could have received up to $3 billion in city and state incentives from the Long Island City site.

The March 1 letter appeared as a full-page ad in the Times, and Cuomo was joined by signatories, including public housing tenant leaders, business owners, union leaders, and members of Congress. The signatories urged Amazon to reconsider, “so that we can move forward together.”

“We know the public debate that followed the announcement of the Long Island City project was rough and not very welcoming,” the letter states. “Opinions are strong in New York — sometimes strident. We consider it part of the New York charm! But when we commit to a project as important as this, we figure out how to get it done in a way that works for everyone.”

The letter continues to assure Amazon that Gov. Cuomo “will take personal responsibility” for gaining the project’s approval by the state, while Mayor Bill de Blasio will “manage the community development process.”

In a radio interview on March 1, Gov. Cuomo told WNYC, “This is a blow to the state, and I’ll do everything I can to reverse it.”

On March 7, ALIGN NY, one of the community groups that led the resistance to Amazon’s deal with New York, held a rally at the Amazon Books store in New York City to call for economic development that benefits communities rather than developing projects without regard for locals’ considerations. ALIGN NY criticized Gov. Cuomo for “attacking community groups, unions, and residents for standing up for our communities.”