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New York wanted Amazon so bad it was willing to pay part of its employees’ salaries

New York wanted Amazon so bad it was willing to pay part of its employees’ salaries
[Photo: Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

New York State’s opening bid to Amazon to locate the tech giant’s second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, was bigger than we initially knew. How much? $800 million more in incentives and even an offer to pay part of the salaries of some Amazon employees.

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The Wall Street Journal reported, “The state’s initial offer [in October 2017] included $1.4 billion of tax credits based on the number of employees hired and $1.1 billion of various grants,” according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request to New York’s economic development authority, Empire State Development (ESD).

WSJ’s report found that other suggestions were proposed. “Officials also presented alternative campus sites, including near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, on the island’s West Side near Penn Station and in downtown Brooklyn. The city proposed that Governors Island, a former Coast Guard base between Manhattan and Brooklyn, could serve as an ‘island retreat’ for Amazon employees,” the article cited.

The eventual memorandum of understanding didn’t clock in that high when it was written a year later, though. New York’s subsidies included $1.7 billion from the state and $1.3 billion from the city for a campus that would cost up to $2.5 billion and was expected to bring in around 25,000 workers over the course of 10 years.

New York’s larger opening salvo was due to the fact that the original scope of the project was larger and the ESD was aiming to “draw Amazon to the negotiating table” as multiple cities across the U.S. and Canada submitted their proposals and incentives.

Amid critiques by legislators and citizens, some of whom estimated that the New York City and Virginia campuses would cost taxpayers north of $4.6 billion combined, Amazon canceled its plans in February 2019.

Amazon declined to comment. Fast Company also reached out to the ESD and will update as soon as we hear back.

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