Some of western Queens’ biggest movers and shakers are part of new Amazon Community Advisory Committee

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of a Community Advisory Committee to share information and solicit ongoing community input about Amazon’s planned HQ2 campus in Long Island City.

The list of CAC members includes LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail Mellow, Urban Upbound co-founder and CEO Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech, Pursuit founder and CEO Jukay Hsu and Hour Children Director Sister Tesa Fitzgerald.

Members of the CAC will work through three subcommittees to develop plans for the headquarters and onsite public amenities, investments in neighborhood infrastructure to benefit the surrounding communities, and training and hiring programs to ensure that homegrown talent fills the 25,000 good-paying new jobs at the HQ2 campus over the next 10 years, with a plan to grow to 40,000 over 15 years.

“Amazon’s new headquarters will bring more than 25,000 jobs benefitting all New Yorkers from NYCHA residents to CUNY student,” de Blasio said. “The Community Advisory Committee will bring together stakeholders of all backgrounds to help shape this important plan. Robust community engagement is critical to ensuring that the investments and resources generated from this project serve the needs of everyone in Long Island City and beyond.”

The CAC’s 45 community members were appointed in consultation with elected officials and stakeholders. The full CAC will meet quarterly starting in January and its three subcommittees will meet nearly once a month during the course of the planning process.

“Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our economy and community input will be a critical part of the development process,” Cuomo said. “We look forward to working with local elected officials, community organizations and residents to ensure their voices are heard as we work to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, generate billions in revenue that will be reinvested in the region, strengthen our infrastructure, and expand opportunity to New Yorkers.”

Together with Empire State Development, Long Island City Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin and Community Board 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith will lead the Project Plan Subcommittee, which will advise on development of the General Project Plan and issues related to the construction of the new headquarters.

“Long Island City is a highly diverse, mixed-use community and we look forward to working with members of the CAC and the entire community to ensure that the voices of that mix — including commercial, tech, industrial, retail, cultural, small and large businesses, as well as residential and students — inform this project,” Lusskin said. “Only in that way can it fulfill its promise to strengthen the balance of those uses, while benefitting the larger community as well. This is the largest economic development opportunity ever for NYS and NYC, and if done right, will have a lasting positive impact on both, as well as LIC, for generations to come.”

Melva Miller of the Association for a Better New York and Hunters Point Park Conservancy President Rob Basch will work with the NYCEDC in leading the Neighborhood Infrastructure Subcommittee. This group will advise the city and state on infrastructure priorities in the broader Long Island City neighborhood and build on the $180 million investment plan the de Blasio administration recently announced.

“I am excited to work with our community leaders to advocate for money to make essential upgrades to our infrastructure, including transportation,” Basch said. “Additionally, with more people living and working in out community it is essential that we provide more access to the waterfront and add parks and green spaces. I love living in Long Island City and I want to do my part to make sure our community remains a welcoming and vibrant community for everyone.”

Together with Amazon, Bishop Taylor, Dr. Mellow and Jean Woods-Powell of Information Technology High School will lead the Workforce Development Subcommittee, which will develop an education-to-career workforce strategy to ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds have the skills and training to access the employment opportunities at the HQ2 campus.

“This is a historic time for our city and an even more historic time for northwestern Queens. The arrival of Amazon will revitalize neighborhood businesses and jumpstart young entrepreneurial minds in our communities,” Taylor said. “This is an opportunity to create real careers for the public housing residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria and Woodside. Co-chairing this subcommittee, we will lay the groundwork for a future where these residents are leading the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.”

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