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NYC, Newark among the finalists for Amazon’s HQ2

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The tech giant has narrowed the pool down to 20 North American cities

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is one NYC area that city officials believe could accommodate Amazon’s HQ2.
Max Touhey

After submissions from 238 cities, plenty of prognosticating, and a plethora of ridiculous campaigns to woo Jeff Bezos, Amazon has announced the finalists for its second North American quarters, known as HQ2—and both New York City and Newark are among the top contenders.

The two locales are on a shortlist of 20 diverse sites throughout the U.S. and Canada, many of which are major cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C., Miami, Denver, and Boston all made the cut, as did more surprising choices like Columbus, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

In its bid for HQ2, which was submitted in October, NYC’s Economic Development Corporation named four neighborhoods—Midtown West, Long Island City, the Financial District, and the so-called “Brooklyn Tech Triangle” (encompassing DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Downtown Brooklyn)—as sites that could accommodate the tech giant’s new headquarters. “The case for New York City is simple: we are the global capital of commerce, culture and innovation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a letter to Bezos at the time.

Amazon says that its new headquarters could create as many as 50,000 jobs for whichever city it lands in, along with billions of dollars of investment—the company claims that “every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle [where its first HQ is located] generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s economy overall.” HQ2, which could encompass up to 8 million square feet, is expected to cost about $5 billion to construct.

While many local officials—Public Advocate Letitia James, every borough president, and multiple city council and state assembly members—endorsed New York’s bid for HQ2, the whole process also has its critics. (And not just those who view it as an elaborate PR stunt to boost Amazon’s profile—not in any way an unreasonable critique.)

A collective of social justice advocates, encompassing members from groups like Make the Road New York and Showing Up for Racial Justice, in its opposition to New York’s bid, stated that “if Amazon is going to continue to grow its operations across New York City and State, it must improve its business model and its treatment of communities and workers.”

Those groups also stated that “Amazon should not receive sales tax exemptions, property tax abatements, corporate income tax credits, or any other state or local financial incentives, period.” Newark has offered $7 billion in tax incentives as a sweetener for Amazon to land there, and while any possible sweeteners from New York City have not been made clear, they are apparently on the table.

Amazon is expected to make its decision later this year, and “will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information as necessary, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate our hiring plans as well as benefit our employees and the local community,” according to a release.