Amazon leaving NYC deal shows how powerful a community can be

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FILE – In this June 16, 2014, file photo, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage for the launch of the new Amazon Fire Phone, in Seattle. Amazon has had a complicated few weeks with its cancellation of a New York headquarters Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, and extortion claims last week related to intimate photos taken by its founder. Experts say the events are unlikely to pose much of a threat to Amazon’s business. But the company will continue to face more challenges as it grows larger. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

This past Thursday, Feb. 14, Amazon announced that it would be backing out of its plan to build a new headquarters in New York City. The proposed headquarters, which was supposed to be located in Long Island City, Queens, was first announced back in November after Amazon went through an intensive search for their two new corporate locations. The proposed branch in Queens had some positives, like the thousands of jobs it would have brought to the area, but was also fraught with controversy due to the questionable methods used to lure Amazon to the company.

Ever since the locations for the new Amazon campuses were announced, New Yorkers have had heated arguments over the company’s move to the city. According to a recent poll reported by Siena College, 56 percent of New Yorkers claimed that they supported Amazon’s decision to open an office in the city. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, supporters of Amazon’s plans, were both upset and frustrated by the sudden decision of the company to pull out of the deal, calling it a “lost economic opportunity”. The leaders, along with some NYC residents, had hoped that the expansion of Amazon would result in at least 25,000 new high-paying jobs in the city and help New York gain a reputation as a growing tech-hub, much like San Francisco and Seattle.

However, in recent weeks, many politicians have spoken out about their dissatisfaction with the project. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the progressive politicians opposing Amazon’s move to Queens, pointed out the fact that, in 2018, Amazon will pay $0 in federal income tax, while still making billions of dollars in profit. “Amazon is paying $0 in taxes on $11+ billion in profit. $0 for schools. $0 for firefighters. $0 for infrastructure. $0 for research and healthcare. Why should corporations that contribute nothing to the pot be in a position to take billions from the public?” For this reason, among many, she opposed the idea of hosting a huge company that would give nothing back to the community that hosted it. Additionally, many New Yorkers were concerned about the company’s effect on daily life in the city through problems like overcrowding, rent prices and taxes increasing and new jobs not being given to those within the city.

Due to the backlash from politicians and community members, Amazon felt that they did not have the support necessary to make their new location possible in New York and, thus, pulled out of the agreement. Whether this was the correct decision from a business standpoint is difficult to say. However, the entire situation speaks to the power of legislators working with the public to reach a common goal. Multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon seem like giants to the rest of the world, nearly untouchable to the average citizen. However, by coming together in protest for what they believed in, New York citizens were able to make their voices heard through their protests, something which is not always successful in effecting change.

It is unclear what the future of Amazon is now, without a new home for its proposed new headquarters, but it seems that New York will not become the new home of the company. It is hard to say whether Amazon backing out of this plan is a positive or negative for the city in the long run, as we may never really know what the effect of a company of such magnitude would have on an already-bustling metropolis. However, we should look at this entire situation as an example of the power of a community to come together, fight for their beliefs and effect change. As cheesy as it may sound, in this case, it seems that the little man won a gargantuan fight, proving that even if you feel powerless, there is power in sharing your voice.


Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor  for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.

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