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Report: Amazon may cancel its New York HQ2

The Washington Post reports that pressure from local politicians and activists is causing the corporation to rethink its proposal.

Report: Amazon may cancel its New York HQ2
[Photo: Anthony Delanoix/Unsplash]

In the face of heated local opposition, Amazon is reportedly reconsidering building a new headquarters in New York City.

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According to a report in The Washington Post, two officials familiar with the company’s strategy said that Amazon may not move forward with its proposition to bring 25,000 jobs to the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, given that local politicians and activists are fighting against the project. Much of the opposition stems from the billions in tax incentives that New York City and New York state want to give to the world’s wealthiest company, which is owned by one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Fast Company spoke to one of the leaders of the opposition, State Senator Michael Gianaris, earlier this week, about how he is waging a war against what he calls Amazon’s “propaganda” in his constituents’ mailboxes. Gianaris was recently nominated to a state board that has the power to veto the deal (though he has not yet been confirmed by staunch Amazon supporter Governor Cuomo). Activists and other politicians, like New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have also expressed concern over how Amazon’s arrival in Queens could raise rents, displace people, and strain an already-stressed subway system–not to mention the company’s anti-union position in a pro-labor town.

“It is outrageous that Amazon is now essentially threatening New York City taxpayers to pay for its new headquarters or else it will leave town,” said Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which is trying to unionize Amazon’s New York warehouse workers through its branch, the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Multibillion-dollar corporations and billionaires like Jeff Bezos should not be threatening New Yorkers or expect any American taxpayers to foot the bill for opening a new headquarters–whether it’s in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, or anywhere else.”

A recent Amazon-commissioned poll shows that about 69% of registered voters in New York approve of the deal, but The Washington Post‘s report reveals that the vocal opposition may be enough to convince Amazon that it makes more sense to put its headquarters in a city that wants it. However, the Post reports that there are no official plans to withdraw as of yet. Arlington, Virginia, the other new headquarters location, has been much more amenable, as has Nashville, Tennessee, where Amazon plans to bring 5,000 new jobs at a new “operations hub.”

In response to a request for comment about the report today, an Amazon spokeswoman shared a brief statement: “We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors–small business owners, educators, and community leaders. Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”

It’s been quite the week for Amazon: Last night, CEO Jeff Bezos published a bombshell Medium post accusing the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail and extort him over some dick pics. It might be part of a conspiracy that–surprise!–leads all the way to the Trump administration.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and sign up for her newsletter here: https://tinyletter.com/schwabability

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