Amazon dropped its grand plans to set up a new headquarters in New York City following a fierce weeks-long debate and pressure from local politicians unhappy about tax promises made to the tech giant.
The company said it was "disappointed" to announce it wasn’t going to construct an Amazon campus in Long Island City, Queens, on Thursday.
"For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term," the company said in an online statement. "While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City."
The ambitious $2.5 billion project was expected to lead to the creation of 25,000 jobs. The cancellation is a serious blow to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who lobbied intensely to land the campus within city limits.
Amazon said it does not plan to look for another location at this time, and will continue with plans to build offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.
News about the company’s cancellation drew fiery responses from politicians, tech fans and others Thursday.
"Absolutely disgraceful that @Amazon is driven from New York by left wing progressive politicians. Terrible loss of jobs for New York workers and New York economy," Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., tweeted.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., however, praised Amazon’s decision.
"Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world," the congresswoman tweeted.
Others asked Amazon to consider moving to their states.
"Hey, @Amazon. Come on down. The water’s fine!" Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., replied.
"Mr. @JeffBezos, South Carolina would love to have you locate your new HQ here. South Carolina is a great place to do business!" Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chimed in.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat, said the failed Amazon deal should be used as a lesson to other major U.S. companies.
"I look forward to working with companies that understand that if you’re willing to engage with New Yorkers and work through challenging issues New York City is the world’s best place to do business," he said in an online statement. "I hope this is the start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent. I know I’d choose mass transit over helipads any day."
Meanwhile, New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris slammed Amazon for acting like a "petulant child."
"Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves. The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions," the Democrat told The New York Times, questioning what the "real" reason the company pulled out.
Deputy Leader of the New York City Council James G. Van Bramer praised the community for "fighting together" against Amazon’s HQ plan.
"I am proud that we fought for our values, which is a fight for working families, immigrants, & organized labor," the Democrat tweeted. "Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory. Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development deals in our city & state forever."
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., admitted she was disappointed the deal — which would have brought at least 25,000 jobs to the neighborhood — didn’t go through. But she acknowledged that "legitimate concerns" were raised and there were aspects that she wanted to see changed before approving the plans.
"Disappointed that NYC wont be home to 25K+ new jobs from HQ2 & that LIC will lose out on infrastructure improvements that would have accompanied this project. This is not the Valentine that NY needed," she tweeted.
"I was ready to work for those changes. But now, we won’t have a chance to do that and we are out 25K+ new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments," she wrote, in part, adding that she will "continue working with the residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria Houses, & Woodside and all #LIC & #NY12 to strengthen our economy & bring good paying jobs to NY."
Tech:NYC, a New York City-based non-profit, called Amazon’s decision to withdraw from New York a "blow to our local economy" and the "tens of thousands of people the company would’ve employed here." The organization said the news was undoubtedly "disappointing."
"It’s especially disappointing given the overwhelming local support for the deal and there can be no doubt that bad politics got in the way of good policy here," Tech:NYC executive director Julie Samuels said in a statement Thursday.
A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters support having an Amazon headquarters, by 57-26 percent. But they were divided on the incentives: 46 percent in favor, 44 percent against.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson said he was "so upset" by the news and called Amazon’s cancellation was like "losing a major economic windfall for all of NYC."
"The people who will be hurt the most are the young people in NYC who want to grow up and work in tech," said Wilson while discussing the situation in a series of tweets Thursday.
Wilson had been discussing the fallout with British venture capitalist John Frankel who agreed that "politics has consequences."
Jason Hirschhorn, the former co-president of MySpace, also jumped into the conversation.
"Fred [Wilson], I’m late to the debate. but why are on earth was this bad for NYC? what was the opposition’s argument? When the governor and mayor also wanted it. I’m confused," he pondered.
"They said it was a tax giveaway to the richest company in the world. They said it would result in gentrification pushing people out of their homes. They said Amazon didn’t need the tax breaks to come here," Wilson replied. "And most of the money was from a program that any company can take advantage of. The gentrification issue has some substance. The rest was nonsense."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.