‘Amazon No Empty Promise’

A press conference was held on February 11th by the Queensbridge Alliance, a collective of leaders from Northwestern Queens, to urge New Yorkers to support bringing Amazon HQ2 to Long Island City. Community leaders stressed the “historic opportunity for local residents” from 25,000- 40,000 jobs promised by Amazon in its new headquarters slated for Long Island City.

“We are here today to set the record straight. We have a cadre of residents that are standing behind us, all of whom understand the potential of development of our communities. We need to speak to them and not allow people coming from outside of our community to speak for us. You can’t speak for us,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-chair of the Amazon HQ2 Community Advisory Committee Workforce Development Subcommittee. He was joined by Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, the presidents of the Tenant Associations for Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria Houses, and Woodside, and other leaders and members of the Queensbridge Alliance.

“With 25,000 well-paying jobs coming to the neighborhood, the residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria Houses, and Woodside have good chances for the future. We need to make sure that Amazon does more than just go through the motions; we need to make sure that opportunities lead to jobs,” said Congress Member Maloney, stressing unity and collaboration.

Queensbridge Houses Tenant Association President April Simpson who wanted residents to know that the Queensbridge Alliance has their back, said, “We’ve been sitting at the table from day one. We’ve been representing the community for years, so what makes you think we ain’t going to represent them today with Amazon?”

“I’m standing here representing over 3,000 people who live in public housing in Astoria Houses. I was elected by those people to stand as a spokesperson,” said Astoria Houses Tenant Association President Claudia Coger.

Coger expressed disdain for the “misinformation campaign and fear tactics utilized by those blindly opposed to the HQ2 project,” noting “One of the things that bothers me the most is that people do not have the correct information…and stir up people with false accusations. We will not stand for that. You should not go into a community and tell people that they are going to lose their homes unless they have proper documentation. We need to stop that nonsense now.”

Long Island City Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin noted the historic importance of HQ2 for Northwestern Queens, saying “We’ve been working to bring businesses into the public housing here, into Jacob Riis to work, to make sure people in this community learn about the opportunities that are here and there has never been an opportunity in history like 25,000 jobs.”

To show the Queensbridge Alliance “represent(s) substance not style when it comes to jobs,” Francesca Fiore, associate dean of Workforce Development and Business Services at LaGuardia Community College remarked, “We’re focused on ensuring that New Yorkers of all backgrounds have solid routes to jobs in the fast-growing field of tech through educational opportunities at LaGuardia. We recently announced a new collaboration with Amazon to create a training program at LaGuardia for jobs in the well-paying field of cloud computing – jobs that could be at Amazon or other area employers.”

Association for a Better New York Executive Director Angela Sung-Pinsky said in a statement, “A recent ABNY study found that incomes related to New York City’s tech ecosystem are 49% higher than other sectors and 45% higher for New Yorkers without bachelor’s degrees.”

“That’s why we need to work together and recognize that the HQ2 is an ideal fit for Queens. Amazon gains access to our top-notch and diverse talent, as well as all the culture, entertainment and industries our city provides, and we gain economic opportunity that can benefit all New Yorkers.”