Amazon is reportedly in a “grassroots battle” with critics of its HQ2 financial incentives in New York City and Arlington, Virginia.
According to Axios, the company “is caught in a surprise grassroots battle with local critics who are furious that it’s been promised billions of taxpayer dollars to put jobs in New York, Arlington and Nashville, the winners of its search for a second headquarters.”
“Amazon won the top-down battle, with support from governors, mayors and economic development organizations. But it’s now confronting bottom-up outrage from activists and local lawmakers who were cut out of the bidding process,” Axios explained, adding that “Jeff Bezos’ empire is no stranger to fights, having taken out retail rivals with brute force and neutralized Washington, D.C., threats with grand gestures like backing a $15 minimum wage for its employees.”
Axios also reported that the company “has responded to the criticisms by hiring more lobbying firepower in communities where it could face backlash to the office deals.”
In a statement, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson declared, “I don’t think they expected the level of public, grassroots outcry and the level of pushback from elected officials, neighborhood residents, the critical look that was taken at them by the press in New York City. I think they were surprised.”
Amazon faced criticism in November after choosing New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for its new headquarters, with the two locations offering Amazon billions in financial incentives.
New York offered Amazon $1.5 billion in tax credits and $1.2 billion in tax breaks, while Arlington, Virginia, offered $573 million and a deal which would prompt the state to give Amazon two days notice of any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed against it “to allow the Company to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo downplayed the financial incentives given to Amazon, claiming it, “Cost us nothing,” and after he received criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Cuomo claimed only “extreme conservatives” and “socialists” were against the deal.