Donna Drimer didn’t need to see the full page advertisements and the slick mailers sent to residents of western Queens as part of Amazon’s recent charm offensive reminding the public of the 25,000 jobs it will bring to Long Island City with the construction of its HQ2 campus around the Anable Basin, right on the doorstep of her store.
Drimer was also aware of Amazon’s tweet that those jobs will generate $27 billion in new tax revenue and help fund vital services like Mayor de Blasio’s universal health care plan.
“The truth of the matter is I’ve been 110 percent behind this project since it was announced in November,” Drimer said. “The truth is for me to survive, I need the business.”
Drimer opened Matted LIC at 46-36 Vernon Blvd. in 2009 and for the last decade she’s sold contemporary art and photography, custom framing, eclectic jewelry, artisan items and giftware for men, women and children while hosting art shows and events for local painters and photographers.
“Starting 10 years ago, this was all industrial with very little residential and now with the residential picking up we were still treated like second-class citizens here in LIC,” Drimer said. “Now with Amazon in our back pocket, our voice is a little stronger on issues like infrastructure, transportation and lack of schools.”
Matted LIC is the type of shop where customers and friends will stay awhile and have conversations about the neighborhood.
“Interestingly enough, when people do bring up Amazon all they talk about is what effect it might have on the No. 7 subway,” she said.
This week Drimer attended a luncheon hosted by an Amazon outreach team with 25 other small business owners from the neighborhood and what she heard only confirmed her support for the project.
“They really wanted to hear our issues and they want to be part of the community and not a plague on it. Yes, they will have 25,000 employees who will be out on the streets and hopefully they will come into my shop and make purchases that will help beautify their new homes,” Drimer said. “There’s always good and bad, two sides to every coin, we know this. But now I know that they will build a campus cafeteria that is too small for all of their employees to encourage their workers to venture out into the community.”
And Drimer believes it’s true because her brother was an Amazon employee in Seattle 15 years ago and saw how they put the community first, she said.
“Plus they will give artists space, they don’t want to push anyone out of the neighborhood,” Drimer said. “Amazon took out a 10-year lease on the Citi Tower and they’ll move in 700 workers by the end of 2019 and 3,000 by the end of 2020. I was always for this project but to hear all this coming from them directly was a real breath of fresh air. Look, change is inevitable and if it wasn’t Amazon it was going to be somebody else. At least they care about the community.”
Amazon will be sending out another mailer shortly emphasizing the “tens of thousands of indirect jobs in construction, food service, human resources and retail.” It does have one feature that is different from the original mailer. It urges residents to call state Senator Michael Gianaris at his district office and “tell him to support the project” for the first time.
“It’s ironic that Amazon wants billions of our taxpayer dollars and is spending so much to convince the people of western Queens that it is entitled to those dollars,” Gianaris said in response to the mailer. “People will not be fooled by slick advertising — they will continue to be against the Amazon deal and so will I.”