Amazon officially picks New York, Northern Virginia for new offices

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Amazon on Tuesday officially announced that it would split its “second headquarters” between New York City and Arlington, Va., after a more than yearlong search.

The announcement comes after dozens of cities tried to woo the online retail giant during the search with promises of tax breaks and other gifts. Between the two cities and the addition of a smaller office in Nashville, Tenn., Amazon will reap about $2 billion in subsidies from taxpayers.

{mosads}“These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

The move gives the Seattle-based tech giant a foothold in two major East Coast power centers. Bezos has already adopted Washington, D.C., as a second home; in recent years he has bought The Washington Post and a $23 million mansion in the Northwest D.C. neighborhood of Kalorama.

The company will be collecting more than $1.5 billion in incentives from New York and up to $550 million from Virginia, in exchange for promising at least 25,000 jobs at each of the two new offices.

The New York City office will be located in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City. Under one tax break that New York is offering Amazon, the state will be paying $48,000 for each of the 25,000 jobs that the company is offering.

Amazon’s Virginia office will be fewer than five miles from D.C. in the Arlington district of Crystal City.

The company also announced it would be opening a smaller office in Nashville, promising 5,000 jobs there in exchange for $102 million in incentives.

In statements distributed by Amazon, the governors and mayors representing the three sites all hailed the decision.

“New Yorkers will get tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and Amazon will get the best talent anywhere in the world,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who touted the expected benefits for the city’s residents.

“We’re going to use this opportunity to open up good careers in tech to thousands of people looking for their foothold in the new economy, including those in City colleges and public housing.”

The reaction, though, was mixed from other leaders.

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who will be representing parts of Queens, said on Twitter that she had been flooded with calls from constituents concerned about the impact of having Amazon as their new neighbor.

“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” she wrote. “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.”

Amazon announced the search for a location for its second headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” in September 2017, promising that the new site would be a “full equal to Amazon’s current campus in Seattle.”

The announcement drew solicitations from 238 communities in North America, including dozens of smaller or downtrodden cities hoping to draw a massive economic infusion.

It also comes at a critical time for Amazon. The company has been drawing increasing scrutiny from lawmakers over its working conditions, efforts to supply facial recognition technology to law enforcement and market dominance. 

After a months-long public pressure campaign from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the company recently agreed to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

It’s also been a frequent target of President Trump, who has criticized Amazon’s deal with the Postal Service and suggested that regulators may need to take a closer look at its market power.

Amazon’s critics have repeatedly questioned why the company, which was briefly valued at $1 trillion at one point this year, deserves such massive taxpayer-funded subsidies. 

They also raised concerns about how the process of selecting a new site and reviewing applications from local leaders around the country allowed the company to vacuum up troves of data on hundreds of cities’ infrastructures plans — a process that mostly unfolded behind closed doors — only to settle on two of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the country.

Barry Lynn, the head of the Open Markets Institute who has raised concerns about Amazon’s size and influence, called for an investigation into the HQ2 search.

“Amazon demanded subsidies and terms from cities all over the country, demanded those terms be kept secret, then reneged on its promise to locate thousands of jobs,” Lynn said in a statement.

“Public officials fooled by Amazon should make the terms of any deal or proposed deal public,” he added. “The public has a right to know what state and city officials gave away — in exchange for an empty promise. Taxpayers in both communities — and that means anyone who buys anything — should demand an immediate investigation.”

Updated at 3:50 p.m.

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