Amazon calls off plans for NYC HQ2 after growing backlash

The last time I wrote about Amazon’s HQ2, I noted how anticlimatic the whole search ended up being. All of North America drove itself into a frenzy trying to recruit Amazon’s new headquarters. However, the online giant ended up splitting the winner between the two least imaginative/most obvious choices: New York City and the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. (There’s also plans for some offices in Nashville.)

Amazon gift cards
Flickr photo by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

However, it turns out that wasn’t the end of the story. Since the announcement, there’s been a growing backlash against Amazon moving into New York; among the reasons:

  • A likely hike in local rent rates. Given New York’s already one of the most expensive cities to live in the country, that’s a big concern.
  • An increase in traffic problems.
  • Uncertain job benefits for locals, given the jobs Amazon brings might involve relocating people from elsewhere.
  • Various activities and politicians have noted that Amazon doesn’t need any tax incentives. Especially not when its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is currently ranked as the world’s richest person. Said people also note that Amazon’s $3 billion tax incentive involves funds that could go toward tackling various local concerns (transit, etc.).
  • Various anecdotes about the effects Amazon’s presence has had on Seattle, which include some of the same concerns listed above.

As such, on Thursday, Amazon announced it’s withdrawing plans to set up its HQ2 shop in the Big Apple; instead, they plan to focus on the northern Virginia and Nashville locations. Amazon’s press release claims “polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment.” However, GeekWire reports that polls show it’s more like 56%-57% of New Yorkers that supported HQ2.

My thoughts on Amazon axing NYC HQ2

While some tech leaders in New York are disappointed, I have to agree with others that Amazon didn’t need any tax incentives to locate HQ2 in the nation’s largest city. Never mind Amazon might’ve faced (somewhat) less opposition/better goodwill if they’d picked a city that might’ve benefited more from HQ2, like Detroit or Indianapolis.

I feel that if tech jobs are the future, it’s important that they’re present in the Motor City, the Hoosier State, and similar locales across the country. Tech jobs shouldn’t be limited to several already-expensive spots on either coast.

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