Amazon lobbied to reconsider upstate, NJ after LIC opposition

Amazon lobbied to reconsider upstate, NJ after LIC opposition

Elected officials said they would welcome the tech giant, should it abandon its campus plans.

Some elected officials are asking Amazon to reconsider their communities, should the tech giant abandon its plans in Queens. 
Some elected officials are asking Amazon to reconsider their communities, should the tech giant abandon its plans in Queens.  Photo Credit: Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows/Theo Wargo

Leaders upstate and in New Jersey are already pitching themselves as rebound partners for Amazon, should the company decide to abandon its plans for a multibillion dollar campus in Long Island City.

A group of state leaders from Syracuse, the Finger Lakes and other regions urged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider their communities for the hub, noting that they would welcome the tech giant and the 25,000 jobs it’s expected to bring.

A Washington Post report last week said Amazon’s executives are having second thoughts about their plans for a $2.5 billion, 4 million-square-foot campus in western Queens because of community backlash. Local residents, elected officials and retail and warehouse unions have criticized the incentives Amazon is authorized to collect for the move as well as the company’s position on organized labor. 

State Sen. Bob Antonacci, of Onondaga, said the area would not object to a significant Amazon presence. 

"It is apparent the obstacles in New York City are going to be difficult to overcome and with all of the resources we have in the Syracuse-Rochester corridor we would hope Amazon would give us a chance to become the home of the new headquarters," he said in a statement.

The upstate leaders are not the only ones who are wooing Bezos. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters at an unrelated news conference Monday that he was open to the tech giant moving across the Hudson River. 

"Newark and New Jersey are open for business," he told reporters. "We have reminded the folks that we’re still here."

City Councilman Joe Borelli suggested a less geographically significant shift may do the trick in a series of tweets asking Amazon to consider Staten Island. Borelli said he planned to detail the idea in a letter to Amazon. 

"There are several existing former industrial sites and vacant lots, many of which are waterfront," he tweeted. 

Am Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately provide a direct answer when asked whether Amazon was reconsidering its plans in Queens.

“Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be," an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who helped broker the deal, have both said they are committed to making the Amazon campus a reality, despite The Washington Post report.

De Blasio defended the nearly $3 billion in financial incentives extended to Amazon, while testifying at a state budget hearing in Albany.

He told lawmakers that he wished the bidding process for Amazon’s new offices had been more transparent and that the federal government took steps to prevent companies from pitting cities against cities.

“To me, it was mission critical that this city get those jobs rather than those other cities,” de Blasio told lawmakers. “We believe that a very careful track of the competition (indicated) there were several other cities poised to win and we had to strike the right balance.”

(With Yancey Roy)

Ivan Pereira