Tuesday 16 July 2019

Amazon ready to rethink opening new HQ in New York after opponents criticised tax breaks

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Susan Heavey

Amazon.com is reconsidering locating part of its new headquarters in New York because of local opposition, the Washington Post has reported, citing two people familiar with the global retailer's thinking.

The retailing giant had not yet purchased or leased any land for the project there, which would make it easy to leave, the unnamed individuals told the Post, which is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Amazon executives have had internal discussions recently to reassess the situation in New York and explore alternatives, the Post reported.

Amazon said in November it would branch out from its home base in Seattle with plans to create more than 25,000 jobs in both New York City and an area just outside Washington, DC.

The world's largest online retailer plans to spend $5bn on the two new developments in Long Island City, in New York's Queens borough, and in Arlington, Virginia, and expects to get more than $2bn in tax credits and incentives with plans to apply for more. Amazon has mailed flyers to Queens residents, touting the economic and jobs benefits of its New York expansion, trying to blunt opposition from some local lawmakers who said Amazon received too many tax and other benefits.

A critic of the plan, Queens lawmaker Senator Michael Gianaris, was appointed to a state senate panel that has the power to block Amazon's campus, local media including the New York Times have reported. City council speaker Corey Johnson told local radio he is looking at subsidies for Amazon and that the plan is not yet final. One point of contention could be Amazon's opposition to labour unions.

US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district spans parts of Queens and the Bronx, has also criticized Amazon.

In one sign of opposition, artists spray-painted Amazon's logo - spelled 'AMAZNO' - on streets near the proposed site.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio support Amazon's plan.

The split second headquarters, which Amazon called HQ2, attracted 238 proposals from across North America in a year-long bidding war that garnered widespread publicity for the company.

Amazon ended the frenzy by dividing the spoils between the two most powerful US East Coast cities and offering a consolation prize of a 5,000-person centre in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reuters

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