Amazon announcement stirs excitement, outrage in HQ2 locations

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo: WIkimedia Commons/U.S. Department of Defense

Nov. 13 (UPI) — After weeks of speculation, retail giant Amazon formally announced Tuesday it will build two new headquarters campuses in the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas.

The company said the locations will be Long Island City’s Queens neighborhood in New York, and a location in Arlington, Va., just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The announcement Tuesday followed days of reports that said Amazon had settled on those particular locations.

Amazon said it will invest $5 billion in the project and create more than 50,000 new jobs split between the two campuses.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come.”

Amazon has been researching potential sites for months, since it announced last year it would build another headquarters away from its main Seattle-area center.

Amazon will get $1.5 billion in state and local incentives for its Queens location and $573 million in Virginia.

“New York City is about to get tens of thousands of new, good paying jobs and Amazon is about to meet the most talented work force in the world,” de Blasio said.

Virginia Rep. Don Beyer said the new jobs will benefit colleges and universities in the area, like a new Virginia Tech graduate campus in Alexandria.

“The Northern Virginia of today is an economic and cultural dynamo, on the leading edge of the technology revolution that is bettering lives around the world,” he said.

“We must commit to implementing this announcement in a way that will benefit the whole region and all of the Commonwealth,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said. “We’ve seen that major investments like these can bring not only thousands of direct jobs but also lead to job growth in other industries.”

Not everyone is excited Amazon is coming.

Increased housing costs is one of the biggest concerns, and a coalition of local and national housing, labor, small business and environmental groups opposed the move Tuesday.

“Amazon claims it will bring thousands of new jobs to the two locations, but has made no commitments to ensure a significant number of jobs will go to locals,” the group said. “This raises concerns that the new headquarters will only bring newcomers, displace long-term communities and worsen income inequality across these metro areas.”

New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Queens City Councilor Jimmy Van Bramer said in a joint statement they have “serious reservations.”

“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” they said.

Opponents will stage a rally Wednesday morning that will include several politicians in Queens who are opposed to the move.

New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, voted into office last week in the 14th District, blasted Amazon and said the public is outraged over the corporate incentives.

“Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to our residents here,” she said.

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