Queens Amazon supporters head to Albany to call for state legislators backing of deal

Brendan Levy of The Queens Chamber of Commerce speaks in support of Amazon locating their new headquarters in Long Island City.
Photo courtesy of Anat Gerstein

A coalition of western Queens business and community leaders, CUNY students and tech groups trekked to Albany Tuesday to express their support for Amazon’s expansion to Long Island City.

The supporters held a press conference at the so-called Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol Building calling on state legislators to back the creation of 25,000 new good-paying jobs.

“Queens and Amazon are a perfect match,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “Our diverse talent pool, entrepreneurial spirit, thriving art scene and boundless energy will help Amazon continue to grow and thrive, and Amazon’s presence in our borough will create jobs for local residents, catalyze economic activity, support small businesses in our community, as well as generate tax revenue. We look forward to working with Amazon and stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure that New York City seizes the opportunity to bring tens of billions of dollars of investment to western Queens.”

Several members of the coalition have seats on the Community Advisory Committee that met for the first time last month at the Long Island City Partnership, including its president, Elizabeth Lusskin, a co-chair of the Project Plan Subcommittee.

“Amazon’s decision to locate its new headquarters and tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs in Long Island City is the culmination of over 30 years of work to bring great jobs to LIC and Queens,” she said. “My partners and I — the City, the State, leaders representing 35,000 public housing residents and over 50,000 students, and our local business community, small and large — are now working to ensure that not only is Amazon successful here, but that the neighborhood and its people benefit in lasting ways, too.”

Rob Basch, the president of the Hunters Point Park Conservancy, is a co-chair of the Neighborhood Infrastructure Subcommittee on the Community Advisory Committee.

“Here’s what Amazon means to me: it means more good-paying jobs for thousands of my neighbors, it means infrastructure upgrades that will make the community more livable for everyone, and it means acres of new public park land in the Anable Basin for New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy,” Basch said. “Amazon has already shown they will invest in our neighborhood, and I hope all legislators will work together to make this project a reality.”

Richard Khuzami, the president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, also has a seat on the Community Advisory Committee. Khuzami offered a counter-argument to the opposition of Queens elected officials who maintain the nearly $3 billion in state and city tax incentives and subsidies used to lure Amazon would have been better spent on local programs such as affordable housing and transportation.

“I’m supporting Amazon’s decision to join the Long Island City community because I know it will help us build a stronger neighborhood, a stronger borough, and a stronger New York,” Khuzami said. “This project will return LIC to its mixed-use roots — and from building a new park to investing millions in neighborhood infrastructure upgrades, ensuring that as Amazon’s presence grows, our community’s resources will also grow. This is a $3 billion investment that will pay significantly more dividends — it’s a win-win for our neighborhood, and I am proud to support the project, as are many of my neighbors in Western Queens.”