In a bid to tackle its opposition, Amazon released an open letter to New Yorkers on Saturday, listing the benefits of building its massive headquarters in Long Island City.
In the letter, which was printed as an advertisement in the New York Post and New York Daily News, the online retailer described itself as "your future neighbors at Amazon" and said the announcement of the headquarters was the start of "what we hope will be a long and mutually beneficial partnership between New Yorkers and Amazon."
The letter runs down what it says are the "details of the investment," such as 25,000 new jobs over 10 years; career training for locals; some $27 billion in additional tax revenue over the next 25 years, according to the government’s estimates; and, helping small businesses thrive.
The last benefit explains that more than half the items sold in the Amazon store are from small and medium-sized businesses and that its Web Services branch helps launch startups. Plus, thousands of new employees will patronize local businesses once the headquarters opens, they said.
Amazon signs off by promising to partner, listen, learn and work with New Yorkers going forward.
The Seattle-based tech giant announced in November that it cut a deal with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to bring its $2.5 billion, 4 million-square-foot campus to Long Island City, but it was quickly met with protests from locals.
Depending on how many jobs it creates, the company is set to receive at least $2.8 billion in incentives from the state and city, including a Relocation and Employment Assistance Program. If Amazon surpasses its goal of 25,000 workers in Long Island City, it could receive additional state tax breaks.
The retailer could also apply for other tax incentives, including the city’s Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, which offers annual tax breaks of $3,000 per job, potentially worth $900 million over 12 years for Amazon.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, two Queens lawmakers who represent Long Island City, say the deal was made without the consent of the community.
While Long Island City was chosen, in part, because of its access to eight subway lines, 13 bus lines, Citi Bike service and an NYC Ferry landing as well as its proximity to Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, locals are concerned about additional stress on the subway system, which is already in need of infrastructure improvements.
Despite that, there are some officials who welcome the headquarters — Queens Borough President Melinda Katz released a statement saying that “With its organic growth, wealth of local talent and inherent global assets to foster innovation, Queens offers a dynamic mixed-use community where workers can live, ideas can synergize, and businesses can flourish."
Amazon may begin construction within a year, though its plans will need state and community review.