Nassau officials mourn Amazon HQ pullout

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Nassau County elected officials expressed disappointment after Amazon announced Feb. 14 that it would drop its plan to open part of its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. Richard Kessel, head of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, said the panel had hired a consultant to see how the county could have taken advantage of Amazon’s planned investment in the state. “We were identifying businesses that could do business with Amazon and become part of its supply chain,” Kessel said in a Feb. 15 interview. “We were also looking to develop workforce, transit-oriented developments. We were ready to take advantage of the Amazon venture.”
He called the company’s decision to abandon Long Island City, which came after several Queens elected leaders criticized the deal, unfortunate. “I think Amazon would have been a home run for the county,” he said. Those who opposed the Amazon deal, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said New York City and the state should not have agreed to provide $3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives to the company, owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man. Amazon would have created 25,000 to 40,000 jobs over 10 years and provided $27 billion in new revenue for New York City and the state, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Kessel, responding to Amazon’s critics, said it’s sometimes necessary to provide such incentives. He said he had not expected Amazon to abandon the deal, however, and thought it could have worked out an agreement with its detractors. “I was very surprised,” he said. Cuomo, who helped broker the deal with Amazon, expressed anger at Democrats in the State Senate for opposing the deal. But Cuomo also directed some of his anger at Long Island Democrats, including State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, of Long Beach. “Sen. Kaminsky cowered when he should have shown courage,” Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said in a statement. “Now all of Long Island suffers.” Kaminsky, though, supported the deal and in a statement called Lever’s comments absurd. “[The Long Island delegation] supported the deal publicly and privately — but we were not the ones at the table — leaders in Albany, New York City and at Amazon failed to come to a deal, and it is a shame,” he said in an email. “We will continue to fight for good jobs in our region and make sure that companies know that we are open for business.” In a Feb. 14 statement, Kaminsky asked Amazon to build its new headquarters in Nassau County. “We offer close proximity to the New York Metropolitan area, a highly skilled workforce backed by a world-class research corridor, access to beautiful beaches and recreation and the political will to make HQ2 a reality on Long Island,” he said. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran also urged Amazon to reconsider its decision. “Two-thirds of Long Islanders supported this move because they knew it would be good for them, their families and their pocketbooks,” she said in a Feb. 14 statement.