Amazon’s announcement that it’s scrapping controversial plans to build an additional headquarters in New York City provoked rounds of blame and celebration Thursday.
Reactions were swift on both sides of the issue after the massive company said earlier Thursday that it wasn’t willing to work with state and local politicians who oppose the plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), one of the biggest proponents of bringing Amazon to New York, said that state senators and others who led the charge against the headquarters “should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
But many critics had denounced the nationwide bidding process for the headquarters as a scam to trick cities into offering absurd perks on taxpayers’ dime. In New York’s case, the promise of 25,000 jobs came in exchange for $1.7 billion in incentives from the state and another $1.3 billion from the city.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the project’s most vocal opponents, celebrated the news on Twitter.
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” tweeted the progressive congresswoman, whose district is adjacent to Long Island City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a big cheerleader for the project, laid the blame on Amazon for walking away.
“You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” he said. “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.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), whose district includes parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, expressed frustration that the partnership couldn’t continue with some adjustments.
“There were legitimate concerns raised and aspects that I wanted changed,” she tweeted. “I was ready to work for those changes. But now, we won’t have a chance to do that and we are out 25K+ new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments.”
She didn’t specify what changes she had in mind, but others had called for stronger contract language binding Amazon to vague promises, such as its vow to promote “innovation.”
Thursday’s announcement was a win for the project’s biggest critics, who’ve said it’s absurd to hand over so many financial incentives to the wealthiest company in the world, and that adding thousands of new workers to the area would have a negative impact on the already expensive neighborhood.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he’s looking forward to working with other companies instead.
“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,” he said, referencing the promised landing pad that’s become a symbol of everything wrong with the Amazon deal.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who led the state Senate’s charge against the project, warned that this isn’t the last time a city will grapple with the ethics of subsidizing companies in an attempt to lure them in.
“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” he said in a statement. “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.”