When news broke that Amazon headquarters would be expanding to two new locations — Long Island City, New York and Northern Virginia — people on social media had a mixed reaction. According to a poll conducted by NBC Washington, surveyors were more excited than not, while others weren’t sure how they felt about this new venture. Some may feel that a huge new company, like Amazon, will bring new jobs and money to a city, but that’s not always entirely the case.
Newly-elect Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a series of tweets that she is not happy that Amazon HQ is coming to Queens.
“We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The community’s response? Outrage.”
Ocasio-Cortez said that Amazon’s expansion will actually hurt her community instead of help. As a reminder, Ocasio-Cortez, an elected official, is now representing parts of the Bronx and Queens.
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” she said on Twitter. “The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
In a statement to NBC Washington, Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon said that the new Amazon locations will split 50,000 new jobs and says the “average wage of these jobs will be over $150,000.” The investment is estimated to be a $5 billion dollar investment.
But that is exactly what Ocasio-Cortez is fearful of.
Ocasio-Cortez claims that Amazon will be hiring from outside the state rather than locally.
“When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Has the company promised to hire in the existing community? What’s the quality of jobs and how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?”
All of these questions are crucial to ask when any corporation enters a community because ultimately it’s the local people that will be most affected by this. Just look at Seattle’s experience after Amazon landed at its shores.
“When an employer commits to that much space downtown, and all the peripheral things that come along to all that kind of density, it drives the need for housing and hotels and transit. It drives everything,” Brad Hinthorne, managing principal at the Seattle office of Perkins + Will told Curbed. “But I’d much rather have that problem than the problems many other cities are wrestling with today.”
One positive note for Seattle is now it will have more “breathing room” because it’s expanding to other cities and not taking up so much of one place.
Ocasio-Cortez urged that Amazon must help the local community and local infrastructure, and not gentrify and already costly city.
“Displacement is not community development,” she tweeted. “Investing in luxury condos is not the same thing as investing in people and families. Shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.”
She went on to say that the city is already hurting and that officials must address how it will help the community with real concerns and not talks of another Amazon expansion.
We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent,” she said. “Corporations that offer none of those things should be met with skepticism. It’s possible to establish economic partnerships with real opportunities for working families, instead of a race-to-the-bottom competition. Lastly, this isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc. It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests – & they‘ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.”