Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

The governor, the mayor and representatives of Amazon and public agencies announce the LIC deal in November.

On Thursday, Amazon announced that it was pulling out of its planned HQ2 in Long Island City. Here’s what elected officials, candidates, unions, advocacy groups and business organizations had to say about it.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
“Amazon chose to come to New York because we are the capital of the world and the best place to do business. We competed in and won the most hotly contested national economic development competition in the United States, resulting in at least 25,000-40,000 good paying jobs for our state and nearly $30 billion dollars in new revenue to fund transit improvements, new housing, schools and countless other quality of life improvements. Bringing Amazon to New York diversified our economy away from real estate and Wall Street, further cementing our status as an emerging center for tech and was an extraordinary economic win not just for Queens and New York City, but for the entire region, from Long Island to Albany’s nanotech center.

“However, a small group of politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state. The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris
“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event. Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way. It is time for a national dialogue about the perils of these types of corporate subsidies.”

Council Member Peter Koo
“This was never a perfect deal, but the lost opportunity of billions in tax revenue and thousands of high-paying jobs is painful for New York. It’s also a stark reminder to companies seeking economic development deals with the city that they need to listen to community concerns if they want their support.”

Council Member Francisco Moya
“A giant fell today. We just witnessed tenacious grassroots organizing topple a corporate Goliath. There are some that will clamor about the loss of jobs that don’t exist yet. Relax. Queens and Long Island City will continue to create and attract businesses because it is attractive. Let this signal to whoever else wants to play bully ball with us that we don’t play that game. This is New York. You don’t get to elbow your way into our city, take a fortune in tax incentives and then pit the working class against each other without getting told what we think about it. Be advised: We’re a union town. We fight for the working class.”

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
“Nice going anti-capitalists. Taxpayers wanted a BETTER deal, not to KILL the deal. Those elected officials who fought Amazon tooth and nail without flexibility just lost more than 25,000 good paying jobs for their constituents and the people of New York City.”

Speaker and Acting Public Advocate Corey Johnson
“I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenging issues New York City is the world’s best place to do business. I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez
“If there’s anything to be learned from this unfortunate episode it is that the community needs to be heard from early in the process, rather than having a secretly negotiated agreement foisted upon them. When this deal was unveiled, many of my colleagues and I raised serious concerns. Certainly, everyone regrets losing an opportunity to bring jobs and investment to our city, but in many ways this process seemed flawed early on. I hope in the future, if proposals like this are under consideration, there will be more meaningful engagement of all stakeholders, including the local community and labor.”

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz
“We all want jobs to come to Queens, and Amazon used the promise of job creation to extract major concessions for this project. But after last month’s City Council hearing, it became increasingly clear that they had no intentions of being good neighbors and committing to the required negotiations. They rejected our values of supporting working people and were unwilling to work with our local communities toward a mutually beneficial resolution. New York has the best tech work force in the nation, much of which is here in Queens, so if Amazon wants to take their jobs somewhere else with a lesser work force so they can undercut wages and workers’ rights, that’s their choice.”

State Sen. Jessica Ramos
“Today we have seen the power of grassroots community organizing. Together, we are fighting for a New York that prioritizes affordable housing, small businesses, and union jobs. This deal was going to set a dangerous precedent that circumvented the public review process to welcome one of the biggest corporations of our time that pays zero taxes already. What we, the people, did in Queens was finally draw the line in the sand. We need community development not displacement. In my district, the fight is not over. Amazon is still planning to build a distribution center here, with some of the worst jobs Amazon has to offer. What we need are fully-funded schools, an MTA that works, and affordable housing – all of which would benefit from Amazon paying their fair share. Queens is not for sale. Amazon has no intention of working with us. They would rather walk away than do the right thing by their neighbors, so we will continue to fight against the corporatization of our barrios, and we will win.”

NYC Council Member Brad Lander
“For more than a year, I’ve been critical of Amazon’s bidding process and their monopolistic insistence that they make all the rules: The Hunger Games-style, race-to-the-bottom bidding process that pressured cities and states to bid away their tax base. Requiring finalist cities to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), hiding those bids from public view. Refusing to provide their workers with a neutral playing-field to decide if they want a union, amidst reports of bad labor practices. Undermining the ability of the Seattle City Council to adopt public policy to address their homelessness and affordable housing problems. Providing technology to ICE. Let’s be clear: we want companies to set up shop in New York City and grow the job base here. That will present real challenges, like the need to improve our infrastructure, create and preserve affordable housing, protect residential and commercial tenants from displacement, and share the benefits of growth widely. We are up to the challenges of growth, but only if we have the democratic capacity and tax base to allow us to do it.”

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen
“I’m horrified and appalled that a small faction of local officials sought to kill an effort that was certain to bring countless economic benefits to millions of New Yorkers, including many in the Town of Hempstead.”

Public Advocate candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito
“The Amazon deal was a mess: $3 billion in subsidies for a trillion dollar company, pushed through by two men who think community engagement is a joke. This is why you bring local residents and stakeholders to the table before claiming victory.”

Public Advocate candidate Nomiki Konst
“Amazon should have never been welcomed here. There’s a long history of worker exploitation, dishonest deal making, attacks on small businesses, and the tragic effects of homelessness Amazon has left on communities, this is why is wasn’t just about a backroom deal. This is why a public advocate should have a deep understanding of issues and records, and the economic effects of big business decisions like this.”

Councilmember and Public Advocate candidate Rafael Espinal
“Amazon’s decision shows the company isn’t ready to make the commitments that a pro-union city like New York deserves. I have been against Amazon’s plans from the start, and especially against subsidizing one of the world’s wealthiest businessmen. Their latest anti-union statements confirmed that Amazon is not the right type of company to be rolling out a red carpet for.”

Assembly Member and Public Advocate Candidate Michael Blake
“It is very disappointing that Amazon is canceling their proposed plan to move to Long Island City. A collaborative deal would have brought Jobs and Justice to New Yorkers. It is a shame that Amazon walked away from the deal and a shame we don’t have more of a strategy as a city around what to do now. Our residents need good jobs and higher wages. Our city needs leadership with a plan for workforce development, including focused on tech sector and related jobs. … If the deal ensured economic benefits for low-income New Yorkers, Minority/Women Business Enterprises, and labor protections, it could have been an economic game-changer for the city. It is very telling that Amazon would announce its withdrawal when challenged with community and stakeholder accountability. A better alternative would have been to open a dialogue with local leaders, listen to the concerns of residents, and adapt its proposed plan to assuage those concerns.”

Councilmember and public advocate aandidate Jumaane Williams

“Unlike Walmart whose damage to local economies are based on proximity, Amazon’s is not. Even from Virginia, the company’s practices will harm us if unchanged. New York had the ability to use its power to force this company to address many of its worst practices. Instead, the hubris of two men destroyed any opportunity. It’s also clear that as suspected, Amazon never wanted meaningful engagement, and could not sustain the disinfectant of sunlight.”

Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association (RPA)
“Amazon’s announcement cancelling their move to Long Island City is a lost opportunity to continue diversifying the region’s economy and attracting high-paying jobs. What should have been a rational discussion about infrastructure and community investment got mired in political theater and hardened opinions. New York must remain a business-friendly region that welcomes investment in jobs, infrastructure, transportation, housing and local communities. The key assets that make us attractive for investment remain: our diverse workforce, extraordinary educational institutions, a legacy of infrastructure investments, and access to global markets and capital. We need to keep planning and investing in these assets. We have done a great job attracting job growth for the past decade, but we cannot take this success for granted.”

Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the New York Building Congress
“We are extremely disappointed that with the majority of New Yorkers supporting Amazon’s selection of Long Island City for its HQ2, political posturing got in the way of good government policy. It is sad that the loud voices of a few can derail an opportunity that would benefit countless people. New York City is the new capital of the tech industry, and this is where Amazon belongs. Their decision to not build its headquarters here will cost the city tens of thousands of high-quality jobs, leave a lasting, negative economic impact, and send a cautionary message to companies around the world about calling New York home. Despite this setback, we will continue working with Amazon and other tech companies to ensure their continued investment across the five boroughs.”

Real Estate Board of New York President John H. Banks
“New York’s renaissance over the past forty years has been due in part to our ability to work through difficult issues that have led to record population and job growth and the emergence of our city as a true global capital. It’s unfortunate that we have lost out on an opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs for city residents and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue to fund vital services including infrastructure improvements for transportation, schools, and open space. Nevertheless, New York City is still open for business and will retain its status as a world class center for tech and innovation.”

Tri-State Transportation Campaign
“New York City’s subways are already operating at capacity and traffic congestion has made commuting by car and bus significantly less convenient. Though Amazon could have brought many new jobs, the influx of new residents would have put even more pressure on the city’s struggling transportation system. A global city like New York should not be handing out massive subsidies to large corporations; they should be asking corporations seeking to locate here to be good public citizens. The lesson for elected officials is clear: if we want to keep attracting major companies and top talent, we must prioritize transparent planning, de-emphasize corporate giveaways, and fix our transit. The best way to do the latter is to approve new funding sources like congestion pricing so that the MTA’s Fast Forward plan can be financed and completed.”

Jamila Brown, the New York City-based communications director for SumOfUs, an international consumer watchdog organization
“Amazon’s announcement that it will forgo its planned New York City campus in the face of public opposition is an incredible victory for communities across the country who have been resisting this corporate behemoth since day one. If elected officials in Nashville and Northern Virginia have learned anything from this fight, we hope it’s that offering corporate welfare to giant companies with highly questionable records of social responsibility is a mistake. Jobs are important, but not if they come at the cost of people who are struggling to get by. New York should take the more than $3,000,000,000 in tax incentives it would have given to Amazon and invest that money in our communities. Similarly, we support the resistance against Amazon’s HQ2, because we believe in a safe and sustainable future for U.S. cities that we know Amazon is at odds with.”

Reinvent Albany
“Amazon’s estimated $3B in State and City subsidies were rightly a lightning rod for criticism: we joined those asking, ‘Why is the richest corporation (and person) in the world getting our tax dollars and more favorable tax treatment than established small businesses?’ The exclusive focus on Amazon, however, is oversimplistic. State and local governments give out $10 billion annually in business subsidies, many deals of which cost far more per job than Amazon was projected to. State lawmakers and advocates should not lose sight of the real issue. Our economic development programs are in need of review to determine whether they are even effective. The outcome of one deal is inconsequential without a larger examination of the very programs that Amazon already benefits from.”

New York Working Families Party State Director Bill Lipton
“This is a good day, but if our victory on Long Island City is to have lasting impact, it must be the beginning of a nationwide movement to challenge an economic and political system where corporations call all the shots. Corporate lobbyists have written our federal tax code to suit their needs instead of ours, while multinational corporations routinely pit cities and states against each other. … Make no mistake, if this is all we do then we haven’t succeeded. The only way to stop Amazon and companies like it from extorting and exploiting other communities is to think big and fight against corporate power everywhere. Sen. Julia Salazar and Rep. Ron Kim have introduced groundbreaking legislation calling for a ‘cease-fire’ in the corporate welfare war between the states. That’s the kind of bold policy-making that New York and other states should be moving on right now. The game is rigged, and the only way to win is not to play. ”

Coalition of community advocates from New York, Northern Virginia, and Nashville
“This is a national fight. Since day one of the HQ2 search, communities across the country have challenged Amazon’s empire building. This isn’t just happening in New York; other communities are demanding accountability, too. Communities of color, immigrant families, women, and millennials in and around the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia and the urban core of Nashville, Tennessee, demand decent and affordable homes, safe, stable jobs, and reliable public transit–and want immediate answers and accountability from Amazon. What happens next is up to us. Together, we will continue pressing our demands that Amazon show up in our communities to listen to community members about real concerns regarding jobs, displacement, rising housing costs, lack of transparency, and shutting communities out of processes.”

NYGOP Chairman Ed Cox
“Amazon pulling out of New York is an unfortunate result of the poor leadership and bad economic policies of this state. It should have come as no surprise that this deal, driven in secret by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, which offered billions in corporate welfare and other perks, was met with concern and opposition when it was rammed down everyone’s throats. If New York didn’t have one of the worst business climates in the country, we would have been able to attract Amazon– and many other companies– on the merits of our economy. Until we have a governor and legislature who are serious about reversing the state’s economic decline and making us competitive again, we are going to continue to lose jobs and people to other states. This should be a huge wake-up call.”

Andy Morrison of the New Economy Project
“This is a huge win for New Yorkers and should mark a turning point in New York’s approach to economic development. Instead of top-down decision-making and massive giveaways to destructive corporations like Amazon, our city and state should invest in economic development led by and for people and communities of color, immigrants, and women – who are disproportionately harmed by our current unfair, extractive economy. ”

Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change
“Never again should any of our city or state leaders bend over backwards to give away billions of public dollars to corporations that harm workers and communities. It’s wrong and acceptable, period. Instead, New York should be investing more resources in real affordable housing, better public transit, and high-quality public schools. And our leaders should be demanding that all corporations doing business in New York City meet the highest and best standards for how workers and communities are treated.”

George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16
“New Yorkers made it clear that Amazon wasn’t welcome in our city if it would not respect our workers and our communities. Apparently, the company decided that was too much to ask. We are committed to fighting for the rights of workers throughout the Amazon supply chain and supporting their demand for a voice on the job.”

Rafael Cestero, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)
“This is a huge step backwards for New York City. People take for granted that we have a strong economy, because this is New York and how could a city this size fail? History tells us that it can, because it has happened. By chasing Amazon away, we squandered a rare opportunity to diversify our economic ecosystem with a huge piece of the e-commerce industry. This sends a message to every company of any significant size that New York City is at best going to be hostile to them, and at worst that we’re closed for business. It’s sad, that in one of the world’s truly great cities, with some of the best and brightest elected leaders, advocates, and community organizations, that we couldn’t find a way to make this work – or rather, we refused to find a way to make it work.” –

Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech NYC
“I do think there will be negative effects – not just for tech, but for the whole city. It was the entire city, in fact, the entire region, that stood to benefit from thousands of 21st Century jobs that are now going somewhere else. And that’s not to mention the message it sends to the next company that wants to make a real investment in NYC, which is even more dangerous. I am confident our city and tech ecosystem will survive this, but it’s a real loss.”

Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU
The news that Amazon has decided to cancel its plans to build its second headquarters in New York City is a disappointing development for working people in our city. This is a lost opportunity for Queens and New York on many levels. Of course, the loss of 25,000 direct jobs and many more indirect ones as well as the billions in revenue that the project was expected to bring into our city is unfortunate. For labor however, this is also a missed opportunity to engage one of the largest companies in the world and to create a pathway to union representation for one of the largest groups of predominantly non-union workers in our country.

Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York
“This announcement marks a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world’s richest man. Our members and allies stood firm against Governor Cuomo’s plan to give away more than $3 billion in taxpayer giveaways so that Amazon could force its empire-building on our neighborhoods. …We also know that Amazon will continue to push its deeply troubling tactics—including anti-worker policies, fueling displacement, collaborating with ICE, and raiding public coffers—in other communities across the country such as Northern Virginia, Nashville, and Seattle, and we stand in solidarity with those communities.”

Chelsea Connor, Director of Communications for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do.”

Hazra Rahman, member leader of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
“If Amazon moved here, there would have been an increase in the price of everything around us. Everything right now is within reach for us – hospitals, groceries, markets, groceries. If these small businesses get kicked out, how could we have survived?”

New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA)
“Today New York’s working class showed that big business and billionaires can’t buy our city. New York belongs to the many, not the few. “In Queens and across New York City, ordinary people have led an unprecedented mobilization against Amazon’s plan to take billions in public money, as they crack down on unions and workers’ rights, increase deportations of our immigrant neighbors, and fuel gentrification and rising rents. The impending Amazon deal was far from the only way capitalism is oppressing working class Queens residents and New Yorkers. Millions of New Yorkers still lack any basic tenants’ rights and live with the threat of rent hikes, displacement, and evictions every day. Our transit system is still broken; our public housing is still owed billions. Residents of color face systematic targeting by the police and ICE. These crises persist.”

One thought on “What Everybody is Saying About the Amazon Pullout

  1. This was a big Jane Jacobs win! Like Robert Moses before him, Jeff Bezos needs to learn a thing or 2 about NYC communities. And Cuomo should be ashamed — why wasn’t this project planned for upstate where it’s actually needed??? Bad leadership!

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