Doug Schoen: Amazon belongs in New York – Canceling the move would hurt the company and city

Elected officials in most parts of the country would consider the arrival of a new employer creating 25,000 jobs with an average annual salary exceeding $150,000 a dream come true.

But some New York City officials and far-left community groups consider the prospect a nightmare, and that apparently may prompt Amazon to drop plans to build a second headquarters in the city.

The fact that the Amazon headquarters would pump billions of dollars in new investment and taxes into the local, state and regional economies seems irrelevant to those who want to keep the company out.

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The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, reported Friday that Amazon is reconsidering announced plans to build one of its two new headquarters in New York City because the move has drawn opposition.

Amazon’s other new headquarters is slated to be built in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, where is has been welcomed and sparked little opposition.

It would be a profound mistake for Amazon to withdraw its intent to open a headquarters in Long Island City in the New York City borough of Queens. And the move would be even more damaging to New York City and New York state if it were to occur.

Since well before the American Revolution, New York City has been the hub of the North American economy, bringing in people, jobs and commerce from throughout the world.

A move by Amazon to the nation’s largest city would continue New York City’s tradition of attracting the most innovative and ambitious companies and labor force.

Amazon has said its plans call for eventually occupying 8 million square feet of office space in York City and said it would generate “incremental tax revenue of more than $10 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation.”

Withdrawing from New York City would require Amazon to find a new location for its second headquarters. That would involve significant time and effort, even after a nearly yearlong search, and would clearly not reflect the company’s first and best choice.

More importantly, if Amazon pulls out of New York it would be a disaster for the city. Burdened by a shrinking tax base, crumbling infrastructure, and a lack of good-paying middle-class jobs for the future, New York City needs innovators like Amazon.

The jobs and economic stimulus Amazon would bring to New York City would be a shot in the arm for the city’s middle class, especially the developing neighborhood of Long Island City. The city’s suburbs and New York state would benefit as well.

The direct and indirect economic opportunities from the project are critical for the city and the surrounding region. Amazon’s presence would demonstrate New York City’s singularity as our country’s economic leader.

There is so much hostility to businesses and capitalism by some on the left that they oppose government providing economic incentives for growth that will expand the city’s tax base and create jobs.

A decision to withdraw now by Amazon would suggest the following:

First, companies can no longer do business in New York City because the left-wing within city politics is too powerful and does not seek economic development in formerly distressed neighborhoods.

Second, the nature of political opposition in the city is so strong that even good ideas that will benefit the city, state, region and nation go by the wayside. There is so much hostility to businesses and capitalism by some on the left that they oppose government providing economic incentives for growth that will expand the city’s tax base and create jobs.

Third, some New York Democrats – including Amazon opponent and democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – want to focus only on raising taxes on the wealthiest citizens to increase government revenues and decrease income inequality. They are so hostile to businesses and capitalism that they refuse to work with the business community to create jobs and generate revenue through economic growth.

Amazon potentially deciding to not locate its new headquarters in New York City as proposed would be a harbinger of ill for the city and the region. The impact of this wrongheaded decision would be even worse for working- and middle-class New Yorkers who stand to benefit the most from billions of dollars in community investment, as well as the direct and indirect job opportunities Amazon would offer.

I regret having to write these conclusions as someone who has been involved in New York City politics for nearly 50 years. I vividly remember when New York City had to beg President Ford in the 1970s for a financial bailout that he refused to provide, through our proud economic and social resurgence after 9/11, to the success and global pre-eminence we enjoy today.

Today is not the time to turn inward and block economic progress.

We have a chance to embrace an employer who could be with our city for the next 50 years or even longer, providing badly needed jobs and economic activity.

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, both within New York City and at Amazon.

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I encourage the unlikely pair of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – fellow Democrats who often feud with each other – to help unite all New Yorkers around this project.

Just as Cuomo and de Blasio have found effective common ground to both support Amazon coming to New York City, they should now work together to demonstrate to their constituents the immense benefits Amazon can provide.

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