NEW YORK (AP) – Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that his efforts to get Amazon back on board with a New York headquarters have not worked and that he doesn’t want the failed Amazon deal to drive other companies away.
The Democratic Governor said in a radio interview that he has spoken to Amazon executives in the two weeks since they pulled the plug on a planned secondary headquarters in New York.
“They have given no indication that they would reconsider,” Cuomo said. “So, I think the point was more, not that Amazon is going to change its mind, I don’t think that they do.”
But he added, “We don’t want anyone to think that New York doesn’t understand that we are the home of entrepreneurial business, and we want young people coming here and new talent. And New York is open for business. That is what we are. We’re the commerce capital of the country.”
Cuomo was interviewed on WNYC radio the day an open letter from business leaders appeared in The New York Times urging Amazon not to abandon the New York plans. Amazon has not commented on the appeal.
Separately, the Times reported that Cuomo was working behind the scenes to lure Amazon back and had spoken with CEO Jeff Bezos, who played no public role in the announcement of a New York headquarters.
Cuomo confirmed that he’d spoken with Amazon executives but that he’d “rather not get into” whom he spoke with.
Amazon announced in November that it would split its new secondary headquarters between the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens and northern Virginia.
Cuomo said New York would reap USD27 billion in tax revenues and 25,000 jobs from the deal. But opponents, including members of the state legislature and the New York City Council, opposed the nearly USD3 billion in subsidies and tax credits the city and state were offering to Amazon.
The deal first appeared to be in serious jeopardy last month when Democratic state Senator Michael Gianaris, an Amazon opponent, was nominated for a seat on a little-known board that could have killed the deal.
Cuomo singled out fellow Democrats who control the state Senate for blame after Amazon pulled out of the deal February 14.
But the governor said on Friday that the elected officials who opposed the deal were “irrelevant” and suggested that he could have pushed the deal through over their objections.
“At this point they are irrelevant, because there are other ways that the state can get it done,” Cuomo said, “and I told Amazon that the state approval process I will personally guarantee and I will manage that. I think for Amazon, it’s just they’ve made a decision and they’ve moved on.”
Gianaris, who represents the district where Amazon was to have built its new headquarters, said he does not regret his opposition to the deal, citing issues such as rising housing prices that could have forced existing residents out.
“The neighbourhood would have been devastated without adequate protections, and there was no consideration for them,” Gianaris said. He added, “Either I’m responsible or I’m irrelevant. I can’t be both.”