New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — along with other politicians in the New York borough of Queens — have taken time to attack the recent announcement by Amazon that they would begin building their long-rumored HQ2 headquarters in Long Island City. The major criticism relates to the attendant tax incentives, worth more then $1 billion, that have been described by critics as a “ransom.” Critics also warn of the potentially destructive effect that the tech giant’s presence could have on local infrastructure and housing prices, according to a report from Business Insider.
A major point of controversy is the offer of a tax break — worth about $1.5 billion — on offer from Long Island City. Skeptics are referring to the agreement as a corporate “giveaway” for one of the richest companies in the world. After speaking with her constituents, on Monday Ocasio-Cortez spoke about the negative response she has received from residents of the waterfront neighborhood just across the East River, opposite from Manhattan, where the proposed HQ2 facility will be built.
In a Twitter post, Ocasio-Cortez explained her constituent’s opposition, saying, “Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
The community’s response? Outrage. https://t.co/Jl4OIfa4gC
Amazon is also expected to be receiving hundreds of millions of dollars worth of extra tax incentives — which is available to all companies in the city — due to its planned employment of New Yorkers from the outer boroughs. It will also see some tax incentives for producing commercial development, based on a report from the New York Times.
In Amazon’s announcement of the HQ2 facility in Long Island City, it touted its plans to create 25,000 “full-time high-paying” jobs — and will invest about $2.5 billion in its campus and related projects. Said projects include infrastructure and green space development, according to the report.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris were much less positive, releasing a joint statement that said, “Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong. We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones.”
Concerns have also been raised over the secret deal reached by Amazon and the state government which prevented any community reviews — or local input on the matter — due to the employment of a loophole at the state level. This loophole allegedly allowed Amazon to overrule City Council decisions in zoning and land-use decisions.
Concerns also center around the notion that the arrival of Amazon will lead to skyrocketing housing prices, as well as overwhelming additional pressure being placed on a subway system in dire need of improvement.