Last week, when Amazon announced plans to build a distribution center in Staten Island–its first in New York City–the press release contained fawning statements from the usual array of local officials. New York’s governor, Staten Island’s borough president, and the CEO of Empire State Development all praised the deal and the 2,000-plus jobs it will supposedly bring to the Big Apple.
Noticeably missing from the press release was a statement from Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York. This is interesting because de Blasio has been a vocal opponent of attempts to infiltrate the city’s borders by one of Amazon’s biggest competitors, Walmart, which has tried for years to open a superstore somewhere New York City, only to face fierce pushback from union and city officials. “I don’t think it is a state secret that I am very uncomfortable with Walmart,” the mayor told reporters in 2014 after opposing the retail chain as public advocate and a city councilman.
De Blasio objected to Walmart on the grounds that it would drive down wages, kill good jobs in lieu of lower-paying ones, and destroy small businesses–all criticisms that have been levied at Amazon. Of course, opening a warehouse is different than opening a superstore, but I was still curious how NYC’s anti-Walmart mayor feels about Amazon coming to town.
However, when I reached out to his office for comment, I was redirected to the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Anthony Hogrebe, a spokesman, emailed a statement that was lukewarm at best: “The City of New York is not providing financial support for Amazon’s Staten Island distribution center, but we look forward to having conversations with them about potential future partnerships to create quality jobs for New Yorkers,” he said.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but better than the “you don’t belong here” treatment Walmart had to endure.