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Amazon's HQ2 in Long Island City is a 'major economic plus': Cuomo

At a business meeting in Manhattan, the governor said the plan is "the largest economic development program in the history of this state."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen on Thursday, says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen on Thursday, says the proposed Amazon HQ2 project will create thousands of highly paid jobs. Photo Credit: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuo/Don Pollard

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave a full-throated defense Thursday of the Amazon HQ2 project in Long Island City, Queens, calling it “a major economic plus.”

The governor’s comments to a business group in Manhattan came after a state senator who opposes the Amazon deal was nominated to a state board that could potentially scuttle the project.

“Amazon coming to Queens with 25,000 great paying jobs is a major economic plus for this state,” Cuomo told about 400 people at an Association for a Better New York luncheon. The project is “the largest economic development program in the history of this state.”

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), deputy leader of the legislature’s upper chamber, has vowed to derail the nearly $3 billion in state and city tax incentives awarded to the online retail behemoth. His nomination to the state Public Authorities Control Board by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) gives him a say in what happens if Cuomo approves the appointment. 

The board must approve a one-time grant of $325 million to Amazon and the legislature must lift a cap on state tax credits so the retailer can receive up to $1.2 million in credits on the 25,000 jobs it plans to create over 10 years.

The incentives are the largest in state history. In addition, New York City is providing a $386 million reduction in property taxes and nearly $900 million in job tax credits.

Amazon executives sparked controversy during a City Council hearing last month when they said the company opposes its workers joining unions.

Earlier this week, Gianaris said he will introduce a bill stopping companies in the new federal Opportunity Zones program from receiving tax breaks for capital gains on zone investments. The Amazon project is in such a zone.

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