How Amazon’s decision impacts New York (and the Democratic party)


Olivia Braito, Graphics Manager

Graphics by Olivia Braito

Anthony Maisano, BIPP Intern

Just 94 days after the landmark decision was made, Amazon has decided to axe their plans to open a headquarters in Queens, N.Y. Amazon cited political turmoil between the corporation and local politicians as the main reason for the change, releasing a statement stating, “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”


This statement comes after months of opposition from local politicians that fiercely contested the $3 billion performance-based incentive package that Amazon was poised to receive, in exchange for the estimated $27 billion in revenue and 25,000 jobs Amazon would bring to the state. Amazon’s change, of course, reflects both a sense of corporate entitlement and political fervor.


Corporations seeking government incentives is nothing new. In a 2012 New York Times investigation, it was found that over $80 billion a year goes to corporate incentives. While some of these are focused on the short-term, Amazon’s deal with New York was focused on a long-term, performance-based structure. Amazon’s deal stipulated that without growth, they would receive no incentives. This type of deal focuses on creating a long-term community partnership with the state government, as there is a continuing reason for the company to succeed in providing economic benefits to the community.


Amazon has risen to power in a culture that has spoon-fed large corporations, as states vie over attracting and retaining large revenue-makers. With Amazon’s duty to protect their shareholders, of course, they focus on seeking out incentives. Yet, what may differentiate Amazon from the rest of the pack is how they chose two new headquarters, one in New York and one in Virginia, instead of just one. While this can be seen as a smart logistic move, Amazon may have chosen both headquarters as a way to try and leverage incentives even more, with the ultimate goal of only picking the one location with the best incentive. If true, this would be a gross overreach of corporate greed and entitlement.


While many local politicians in Long Island sought to protect the state from the perceived corporate greed of Amazon, such as Senator Michael Gianaris and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, their intentions may not be as pure as they seem. Both politicians have come into new positions of power with goals of advancing society and making a name for themselves. The two officials expressed fierce opposition against the Amazon deal, with Gianaris stating, “Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way.” Ocasio-Cortez simply voiced her opinion, saying that “Queens is not for sale.”


Both politicians were quick to claim praise on social media after Amazon released their statement leaving the deal. “Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” Ocasio-Cortez said. Yet, it seems the two politicians were focused more on taking down and bullying a powerhouse company than on the benefits to their districts. Amazon would have provided an abundance of jobs and a huge stream of income for the state, even after factoring in incentives.


Amazon’s decision to not continue its plans for a headquarters in New York is a hit to both the state’s revenue and its Democratic party. New York’s Democratic party has been split over Amazon, with politicians like Ocasio-Cortez and Gianaris opposing the incentives, while Governor Andrew Cuomo fiercely advocated for the presence of Amazon, hoping to increase New York’s economic diversity. It will be interesting to see how the consequences of Amazon’s decision unfold. Will the Democratic party face tension or will they unite to recoup the future revenue they are losing from the Amazon withdraw?


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