- A coalition of New York City business leaders and current and former elected officials released an open letter calling on Amazon to reconsider its decision to pull its second headquarters (HQ2) out of the city.
- The open letter, published in The New York Times last Friday, said that despite the significant political opposition to the plans for New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, Amazon would still be welcomed in the city and public support remains. The group also pledged Gov. Andrew Cuomo would take “personal responsibility” for the state approval process, and he and Mayor Bill de Blasio will work together on community engagement, infrastructure investments and other areas.
- “We understand that becoming home to the world’s industry leader in e-commerce, logistics and web services would be a tremendous boost for our state’s technology industry, which is our fastest growing generator of new jobs,” the group, under the umbrella of the Partnership for New York City, wrote.
This letter is the continuation of a trend among some to get Amazon to reconsider a decision that pulled its promise of 25,000 jobs from New York and forced fellow HQ2 winners to provide assurances that their plans were safe. In the meantime, Cuomo has mounted a furious campaign to convince Amazon to reconsider its decision, including personal pleas to founder Jeff Bezos. It is a strategy that has won praise from the Times’ editorial board, although de Blasio appears as resigned to the company’s withdrawal today as he was when it became official last month.
Amazon’s decision to withdraw from New York City has also had the effect of setting off another furious lobbying war as elected leaders and business people in other cities try to get a piece of the HQ2 pie, which they believe is now available despite the company saying it would not reopen any search. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker have tried to get the city back in the mix, while U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, sent an open letter saying a West Virginia city could be the perfect location.
There is clearly still a groundswell of support for Amazon’s HQ2 in New York City, with the likes of New York Budget Director Robert Mujica releasing an open letter of his own, saying it "was the single greatest economic development opportunity we have had." But the opposition is still significant too, and it is possible city leaders have followed de Blasio’s lead and decided to move onto other projects.
After an intense bidding war that created divisions even in cities that did not make the shortlist, city leaders around the country might be advised to look at other ways to encourage economic development, and not just rely on giving big companies tax breaks and incentives to bring in a new campus or headquarters.