After Pressure from Officials and Community, Amazon Drops Plans to Build “HQ2” in Queens, New York

Date: 21 Feb 2019 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Following months of public debate and community action, Amazon announced last week that it would continue to grow its workforce in New York, but would not follow through on plans to build a new campus in Queens. Through a deal negotiated by the governor and mayor behind closed doors and without legislative review, New York had offered Amazon nearly $3 billion in tax subsidies.

But the deal quickly became a flashpoint in public discussions around inequality, tax breaks for big business, and the power of monopolistic firms to bend the rules to their own advantage. The odds were long, but community organizing and public accountability ultimately prevailed.

While all eyes have been on New York, Amazon has begun to encounter similar opposition in northern Virginia and Nashville. And its ruthless HQ2 sweepstakes have inspired a new movement to limit corporate giveaways (follow Good Jobs First for latest on this).

ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell discussed the New York reversal on Chris Hayes on MSNBC, as well as Vice’s Motherboard, The Hill, and VentureBeat.

Our research and analysis of Amazon’s monopoly power was cited frequently in the HQ2 debate too, including our reports on Amazon’s ultimate ambitions and the company’s incursions into government procurement, and our commentary on its past history of public subsidies.

For other good commentary on the HQ2 saga, we recommend David Leonhardt’s column in the New York Times; this call-to-arms piece from last fall by Ron Kim and Zephyr Teachout, also in the Times; and this piece by Hamilton Nolan in Splinter.


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Charlie Thaxton

Charlie Thaxton was a researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Independent Business Initiative in 2018-2019. He studied local economies, small businesses, civics, and their connection to social capital and wellness.