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Williams opposes deal with Amazon

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Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams on Tuesday opposed a deal between Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Amazon, the world leader in e-commerce and cloud computing, which will establish a new corporate headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

“I am opposing this deal as it stands, and will do all in my power to fight its implementa­tion,” said Williams, representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

He said, last year, he signed onto a letter encouraging Amazon to consider New York City as a site for its new headquarters.

He said this was intended to be “the beginning of a conversation.

“I thought that it would have been irresponsible not to at least explore the possibility of adding thousands of new jobs,” Williams said. “What I could not have thought was that the next response in that conversation would be a secret back room deal, reached to undermine and cut out all of the stakeholders in this issue.

“Communities throughout New York City are in need of economic development, and I had hoped that if Amazon expressed interest in expanding in the city, a productive conversation could be held between the city, state, community, unions, local business owners, advocates, and more,” Williams added.

“It is clear that Amazon intends to move forward in its plan without adequate dialogue and compromise,” he continued. “Our government should be taking steps to act as a check on rampant corporate expansion, to ensure that any new development is designed with the greatest possible benefit to New Yorkers in need and to prevent any unintended consequences.

“Small businesses must be given the tools to survive and thrive, and economically disadvantaged New Yorkers need to be given enhanced opportunity in this new development,” Williams said. “We must put community interests over corporate interests.

The Mayor’s Office said the decision with Amazon followed “a comprehensive, year-long selection process during which 238 cities across North America competed for the multibillion-dollar project.”

In 2019, the Mayor’s Office said Amazon will occupy up to 500,000 square feet at One Court Square, while working to construct four million square feet of commercial space on Long Island City’s waterfront over the next 10 years, with expansion opportunities for up to 8 million square feet over the next 15 years.

“Through a $3.6 billion total investment, Amazon will draw from the diverse and talented workforce in New York State to fill at least 25,000 new jobs by 2029 and up to 40,000 jobs by 2034, with an average salary of $150,000,” the Mayor’s Office said.

It said the construction is expected to create an average of 1300 direct construction jobs annually through 2033.

Overall, the project is estimated to create more than 107,000 total direct and indirect jobs and over $14 billion in new tax revenue for the State and a net of $13.5 billion in City tax revenue. The project provides a 9:1 return on investment, the Mayor’s Office said.

“This is a giant step on our path to building an economy in New York City that leaves no one behind. We are thrilled that Amazon has selected New York City for its new headquarte­rs,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New Yorkers will get tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and Amazon will get the best talent in the world.

“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,” he added.

Updated 5:57 pm, November 26, 2018
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