Big win or big loss? Reaction mixed to Amazon’s shocking decision to scrap New York HQ2 plans

Big win or big loss? Reaction mixed to Amazon’s shocking decision to scrap New York HQ2 plans

3:41pm, 14th February, 2019
The day Amazon announced HQ2, this graffiti appeared in the company’s new neighborhood, Long Island City. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) Amazon’s announcement that it was pulling out of a planned 25,000-person “HQ2” in New York City elicited a wave of shock and surprise from coast to coast on Thursday morning. The decision from the Seattle-based tech giant to not set up a large office in the Long Island City section of Queens, N.Y., drew celebration from activists, frustration from officials who worked on the deal, concern from economic observers and an immediate effort by rival politicians to secure some of those Amazon jobs. RELATED: “This is a stunning development, with Amazon essentially giving in to vocal critics …,” Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said. “Now, all of the prospective employees who would have otherwise been hired, all of the small businesses that would have benefited from Amazon’s Queens presence and indeed state and local governments looking forward to tax revenues, as well as the broader community, will miss out from improved growth prospects. “This outcome could also prompt other businesses to think twice before setting up shop or expanding in the region,” he added. “The alternative sites which were part of the earlier announcement, Northern Virginia and Nashville, could well benefit with even more jobs than planned.” New York, as arguably the capital of world commerce, will be fine without Amazon, others said. “New York’s renaissance over the past 40 years has been due in part to our ability to work through difficult issues that have led to record population and job growth and the emergence of our city as a true global capital,” said John H. Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “It’s unfortunate that we have lost out on an opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs for city residents and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue to fund vital services including infrastructure improvements for transportation, schools, and open space. Nevertheless, New York City is still open for business and will retain its status as a world class center for tech and innovation.” Amazon was eligible for up to $3 billion in government incentives in exchange for job creation and community development projects associated with the Queens campus. But the resistance from some elected officials was apparently enough to derail the deal and make Amazon leave those incentives on the table. A rendering of what would have been Amazon’s future office tower in Long Island City. (Photo via NYCEDC.com) Jamila Brown, the New York City-based communications director for SumOfUs, an international consumer watchdog organization, issued a statement, calling Amazon’s announcement “an incredible victory for communities across the country who have been resisting this corporate behemoth since day one. If elected officials in Nashville and Northern Virginia have learned anything from this fight, we hope it’s that offering corporate welfare to giant companies with highly questionable records of social responsibility is a mistake. “Jobs are important, but not if they come at the cost of people who are struggling to get by,” Brown added. “New York should take the more than $3 billion in tax incentives it would have given to Amazon and invest that money in our communities. Similarly, we support the resistance against Amazon’s HQ2, because we believe in a safe and sustainable future for U.S. cities that we know Amazon is at odds with.” Mayor Bill de Blasio questioned Amazon’s toughness in a tweet, saying the city gave the company a chance to be a fixture there, but “Amazon threw away that opportunity.” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also chimed in, saying that he hopes this situation with Amazon is the “start of a conversation about vulture capitalism and where our tax dollars are best spent.” You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. — Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) My statement on Amazon — NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) Showing just how important Amazon has become on the political stage, representatives local and national, from all sides of the aisle commented on the decision. Some applauded New York’s resistance and others began trying to recruit the tech giant to their home turf. Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) Huge congrats to working people's movement in NYC for showing that building grassroots fightback can win! Shame on Seattle's politicians for repealing the small Amazon tax to fund affordable housing. NYC's victory reminds us, we need to keep fighting here! — Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) . – one of the wealthiest companies on the planet – just walked away from billions in taxpayer bribes, all because some elected officials in New York aren't sucking up to them enough. How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage? — Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) Mr. , South Carolina would love to have you locate your new HQ here. South Carolina is a great place to do business! — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) Statement from re: Amazon says he's contacting Amazon: — Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) And of course, there was some good internet snark. I'll give you this, Amazon: Telling people you're going to Queens and then bailing is one thing New Yorkers can relate to. — Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) Amazon breaks up with NYC on Valentine's Day. — Dan Primack (@danprimack) Y’all should have known that Amazon in NYC wasn’t going to work out when the renderings had people KAYAKING IN THE EAST RIVER. — Zachary Slater (@zacharyslater) Amazon Considering Moving To New Jersey Instead But Will Tell New Friends At College It's From The "New York Area," Sources Say — S.P. Sullivan (@spsullivan) roses are redviolets are bluehope you didn't buy a condo in queensahead of HQ2 — Kevin Roose (@kevinroose)
10 localities win federal approval to push the limits with drones, but Amazon’s left out

10 localities win federal approval to push the limits with drones, but Amazon’s left out

8:00pm, 9th May, 2018
Pilot projects will send drones where no drones have gone before. (Aerix Photo) The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected 10 state, local and tribal governments to oversee pilot projects that will go where no drones have gone before. But this time around, Amazon has been grounded. The projects are meant to help set a course for ever-expanding drone operations over the next three years. “Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao . Under the experimental program — known as the , or UAS IPP — officials at the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies spent months reviewing 149 proposals submitted in response to . The process required governmental agencies to choose up teams and seek the federal government’s go-ahead to try out modes of operation that are usually off-limits to small-sized drones, such as flying beyond an operator’s line of sight, operating after dark or flying over large groups of uninvolved people. Such modes are seen as essential for widescale commercial applications such as the package delivery systems that Amazon, Walmart and other retailers are working on. In an emailed statement, Amazon said it’s not working with any of the 10 teams that were selected in the first round for the UAS IPP program. “While it’s unfortunate the applications we were involved with were not selected, we support the administration’s efforts to create a pilot program aimed at keeping America at the forefront of aviation and drone innovation,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of Amazon public policy. “At Amazon Prime Air, we’re focused on developing a safe operating model for drones in the airspace, and we will continue our work to make this a reality.” Amazon has been conducting its testing program under other regulatory frameworks. It has drone development centers and test sites in a variety of countries, including the U.S. as well as Britain, Austria, France and Israel. Here are the , and the focus of each project: Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, Okla.: Test extended visual line-of-sight operations. Team partners include CNN and Green Valley Farms, which in Oklahoma. City of San Diego: Test drone operations for border protection and package delivery of food, with a secondary focus on international commerce, surveillance and interoperability with autonomous vehicles and smart-city systems. Partners include Uber, Qualcomm, Matternet and the University of California at San Diego’s hospital system. Virginia Tech – Center for Innovative Technology, Herndon, Va.: Facilitate package delivery in rural and urban settings, and test technologies including detect-and-avoid, identification and tracking, radar systems and mapping tools. Partners include NASA, the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Intel, AT&T, Airbus Aerial, State Farm, Dominion Energy, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Alphabet’s Project Wing, which got its start from Google. Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, Kan.: Test operations beyond visual line of sight, and leverage a to facilitate precision agriculture operations. Partners include local agencies and universities. Lee County Mosquito Control District, Fort Myers, Fla.: Test low-altitude aerial applications to monitor and control the district’s mosquito population. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, Tenn.: Test techniques to inspect FedEx aircraft. Conduct autonomous flights to support airport operations such as perimeter security surveillance and delivery of packages, including airplane parts. Partners include FedEx, Intel and units of General Electric. North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, N.C.: Test localized packaged delivery, including drone flights over people, beyond visual line of sight and at night. The test will . Partners include , , and . North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, N.D.: Test technologies to expand drone operations at night and beyond visual line of sight. Partners reportedly include. City of Reno, Nev.: Focus on the time-sensitive delivery of lifesaving medical equipment, such as medical defibrillators, in urban and rural environments. Partners include FedEx and , which has previously conducted drone delivery experiments in the Reno area with 7-Eleven and Pizza Hut.. University of Alaska at Fairbanks: Test drone operations for inspections, remote surveying and public safety under harsh conditions. The Transportation Department says more demonstration projects may be given the go-ahead in future rounds.