Amazon got a healthy dose of New York brashness Wednesday as city councilmembers grilled company executives and their economic development partners over the plan to build a 25,000-person office in Queens.
Amazon’s appetite for incentives was a key concern raised by the Council, along with frustration over the bid’s lack of transparency and the bypassing of the traditional land-use process. Total incentives from New York City and the state could amount to $3 billion.
“You’re worth a trillion dollars,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, citing the company’s massive market value. “Why do you need our 3 billion dollars when we have crumbling subways, crumbling public housing, people without healthcare, public schools that are overcrowded?”
The Council pulled no punches during several hours of questioning that covered everything from Amazon’s facial recognition technology to its head tax battle in Seattle. But the focus of the meeting was Amazon HQ2, the search for a second headquarters launched by the company more than a year ago.
In November, Amazon announced plans to split the headquarters between New York and the Washington D.C. area, ending a remarkable competition that had cities bidding against one another with government subsidies to lure the tech giant. Read more