Lamont contacting Amazon about second headquarters

Amazon sign

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Amazon is reconsidering its decision to award New York City part of its HQ2 project, which the company has said would come with 25,000 jobs and billions in local investment.

Executives have had internal discussions about whether to proceed with the NY plan or explore alternatives, the Washington Post reported, citing two sources familiar with the company's thinking.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has touted the deal to bring Amazon to NY, criticized state Democrats.

The company has not leased or purchased office space for the headquarters, which would make it easy to withdraw their commitment, the report says.

It noted that the company's plan to build its HQ2 campus in Long Island City (located across the river from Manhattan in Queens) had faced opposition from local activists and politicians.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes some nearby neighborhoods, suggested on Twitter that the report showed people can "come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world's biggest corporations".

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

Among other things, Amazon said it would hire from "across the five boroughs", offer career training for local residents and bring in over $27 billion in state and local tax revenue that can help "improve subways and buses". Amazon is already finding this out in its home city of Seattle, and it's running into opposition in NY because numerous people there don't think it fits. Cuomo has veto power over the appointment, but doing so would draw the ire of a State Senate now controlled by Democrats.

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Despite a splashy announcement that it would set up shop in Long Island City, Queens and create 25,000 jobs (as well as in Arlington, Virginia), it's not too late for Amazon to change course. Amazon's vice president for public policy, Brian Huseman, stated during a city council meeting: "We were invited to come to NY, and we want to invest in a community that wants us".

At a contentious City Council meeting last week, Amazon's public policy director Brian Huseman touted the deal's benefits for the city, but also said that Amazon wants to invest in a "community that wants us". State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D., Queens), who is deputy majority leader in the Senate, has also criticized the project.

Responding to the report of Amazon's second thoughts, de Blasio's office said in a statement, "The Mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers".

No specific plans to abandon NY have been made.

While defending the deal earlier this week, Cuomo called it "probably the greatest economic transaction in 50 years in this state".

Moving HQ2 to another location could also impact Amazon's ability to find the best tech talent at a time when it is expanding rapidly, with NY beating out San Francisco and other cities in a ranking of the best tech cities, according to a report earlier this week.

Amazon has hired a lobbying firm and a public relations firm in NY and recently advertised for a "senior community affairs manager" to "focus on developing a positive partnership with local stakeholders, community groups and nonprofits".

The Amazon deal likely will be a hot topic again during Tuesday's budget hearing on economic development.

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