Open letter in the NYT asks Bezos to reconsider scrapping Queens HQ2
Big names like Morgan Stanley and Mastercard signed the letter, along with union heads and politicians.
Business leaders, community figures and politicians penned an open letter to Jeff Bezos asking him to reconsider scrapping the Amazon HQ2 in Queens deal.
A full-page open letter appeared in Friday’s New York Times to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, following the recent news from mid-February that the tech giant would not move forward with its planned Long Island City HQ2.
“New Yorkers do not want to give up on the 25,000 permanent jobs, 11,000 union construction and maintenance jobs, and $28 billion in new tax revenues that Amazon was prepared to bring to our state,” the letter reads. “A clear majority of New Yorkers support this project and were disappointed by your decision not to proceed.”
The CEOs of Mastercard, Warby Parker and Morgan Stanley; officials at Columbia, NYU and City University of New York; presidents of 32BJ SEIU and 1199 SEIU unions and Queens Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn Representative Max Rose are among those who signed the letter.
The letter acknowledges that the public debate following the HQ2 in Queens announcement was “tough and not very welcoming.” Many New Yorkers cited concerns over how HQ2 would affect the already stressed housing system, and wondered why the incentives from state and city government were not going into the MTA.
“Governor Cuomo will take personal responsibility for the project’s state approval and Mayor de Blasio will work together with the governor to manage the community development process, including the workforce development, public education and infrastructure investments that are necessary to ensure that the Amazon campus will be a tremendous benefit to residents and small businesses in the surrounding communities,” the letter continues.
Cuomo met with Bezos, the Times reports, in an attempt to lure the company back. Previously, speaking to WAMC radio, the governor said that watching Amazon back out of its proposed HQ2 in Queens was “the greatest tragedy that I have seen since I have been in government.”
On WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show Friday morning, Cuomo said that he has no reason to believe that Amazon is reconsidering it's cancellation of the HQ2 in Queens deal — "Would I like them to? Certainly," he added — but that he wants the New York Times ad to be a message to other companies.
"We want all businesses nationwide to know that this was an oddity,” he said. “Don’t think that if you come to New York, the same thing is going to happen that happened to Amazon. That was small vocal minority... and we don’t operate that away. This was a mistake, it was a blunder, but we’re open for business."
The Partnership for New York City on Friday launched a petition to bring Amazon HQ2 back to Queens.
That vocal opposition has not dissipated, though. Plenty of residents and organizations are still opposed to the tech giant setting up shop here.
"Andrew Cuomo needs to stop groveling at the feet of corporations and billionaires and start listening to our communities, who overwhelmingly reject this deal,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, in a statement on Friday.
Axt and Jonathan Westin, Director of New York Communities for Change, recently published a joint op-ed on Medium detailing why they oppose Amazon HQ2 in Queens, citing the company’s reported relationship with ICE among other reasons.
Community organization Queens Neighborhood United also opposed the letter and Cuomo’s recent comments, writing on Facebook that the governor’s judgment is “seriously clouded.”
“Take a close look at all these people, orgs, companies and institutions that say they work to improve our communities, and yet are begging Amazon to come back,” the post continued. “This backroom deal won't manifest because ITS NOT FOR THE PEOPLE. We're not dumb. Economic development by corporations doesn't work, all it does is displace us.”