Queens business gurus and elected officials were split between sadness and euphoria over news that Amazon would build part of its second headquarters in Long Island City.
“As the largest business association in Queens representing more than 1,000 businesses and over 90,000 Queens-based employees, the Queens Chamber of Commerce is excited to work with Amazon, partner organizations and our elected officials as it adds HQ2 to Long Island City,” said Thomas J. Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “With a well-developed existing network of local partners that can provide anything a thriving business might need, Queens is a great place to live, work and play. The Queens Chamber of Commerce intends to help the entire business community connect to opportunities that will help Queens thrive and prosper.”
Councilman Paul Vallone, chair of the Committee on Economic Development, was on board with the announcement.
“Amazon establishing a headquarters in our own backyard in Queens is a once-in-a-generation victory for all New Yorkers,” Vallone said. “By bringing good-paying jobs with ladders for advancement and creating partnerships with our schools and local organizations, life in our borough will improve for thousands. After a nationwide search for its new headquarters, the entire city should be proud that Amazon recognized that there is no place with the diversity and dynamism of Queens.”
“Long Island City – New York’s emerging tech hub – is ‘primed’ for Amazon,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Amazon is a timely fit for the borough, given the Tech Plan we commissioned years ago funded by Governor Cuomo to create the city’s leading tech ecosystem, coupled with Mayor de Blasio’s $180 million in new investments for infrastructure improvements unveiled several weeks ago for schools, transportation and open space. With its organic growth, wealth of local talent and inherent global assets to foster innovation, Queens offers a dynamic mixed-use community where workers can live, ideas can synergize, and businesses can flourish. New companies should take note, however, that New York is a union town. I have full faith that the city and state will be able to resolve all outstanding issues including organized labor, infrastructure and capacity concerns.”
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan remarked that Amazon HQ2 would make Long Island City “the most successful mixed-use neighborhood” in the city.
“Talented residents new and longstanding, skilled artists, artisans and activists, inventors and idealists all call LIC home,” Nolan said. “They come from all over the world, from New York’s backyards and public housing, because they know New York City has the resources, the will and the drive for all to succeed and have a good life for themselves and their families. All are believers in New York as a beacon of excellence, equity and freedom. Long Island City, Queens, is the neighborhood of the fulfillment of their dreams, and this project can be another step in that future. I look forward to working on the success of this effort.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Michael Gianaris, however, were opposed to the addition of Amazon in Queens.
“Bypassing ULURP isn’t just about trying to get around me; it’s a direct assault on community engagement and consultation on a project that would change the face of Queens. It’s outrageous, secretive and the height of corporate Democrats tripping over themselves to provide corporate welfare to the richest man in the world without any community review or votes,” said the elected officials in a joint statement.
Earlier this year, New York state announced that it would provide $1.7 billion in tax credits and grants for the company to have its second headquarters in Long Island City, according to an agreement between the online giant and the state.
“Amazon Cuomo has every right to sell his individual naming rights but we will challenge his ability to sell Queens without review. I call on Mayor de Blasio to reject the governor’s desire to bypass ULURP, the local Community Board, the borough president, City Planning and yes, the local Council member and City Council. The mayor must not be a party to this undemocratic process,” Gianaris and Van Bramer stated.
They referred to the governor as “Amazon Cuomo” based on Cuomo’s remarks last week in which he said he would change his first name if needed to lure the retail giant here.
Van Bramer will host a rally at the corner of 44th Drive and Vernon Boulevard on Nov. 14 at 11:30 a.m. at the Gordan Triangle in Long Island City with Gianaris, Make the Road NY, ALIGN, NYCC and RWDSU in opposition to over $1 billion from the state going toward the headquarters instead of school, transit and housing funding.
Emily Davenport and Robert Pozarycki contributed to this report.