Why would Amazon want to build HQ2 in Brooklyn? - Technical.ly Brooklyn

Oct. 18, 2017 12:59 pm

Why would Amazon want to build HQ2 in Brooklyn?

There's no space and it's expensive, but local tech leaders are still mounting their case. Hear them explain why it could actually make sense.
The view from above Brooklyn’s New Lab.

The view from above Brooklyn's New Lab.

(Photo via Vimeo)

The deadline for municipal proposals for Amazon’s “HQ2” is tomorrow, and the decision on the location of the $5-billion and 50,000-job-producing office will commence.

Cities around the country are wooing Amazon with just absolute bundles of tax subsidies, public transportation offers and even an offer from the town of Stonecrest, Ga., to rename itself “Amazon.”

So why would a company the size of Amazon want to make already-packed-to-the-gills Brooklyn the home for its HQ2?

A group of more than 50 tech leaders in New York signed an open letter last week, outlining to Amazon the benefits of building an HQ2 in New York City. We asked our own brain trust of Brooklyn civic and tech leaders what they think of the idea of bringing the corporate behemoth to Kings County. Culture and jobs were familiar answers.

“In some ways, I selfishly want to keep the treasure trove of NYC tech chops just for Carmera and others in our community … but ultimately, I think having Amazon HQ2 in New York, especially in Brooklyn, would lift all boats,” Ro Gupta, the cofounder of the 3D-mapping startup and one of the signers of the open letter wrote in an email. “We already know a bit about Seattle and the effect of Amazon on the talent pool there—we established our second office in Seattle, and have recruited Amazon alums to Carmera. Aside from pure smarts, they seem to have this combination of grounded, disciplined work ethic, yet big (huge!) picture thinking, that you don’t necessarily see at other large companies.”

The jobs, of course, wouldn’t be only for experienced engineers. Amazon estimates that 50,000 people will work in its HQ2. One of the central issues in the Brooklyn tech world is its disconnect from the neighborhoods that encapsulate and surround it. It seems to plenty of people that the blossoming tech scene works great for highly skilled people moving here to work, but it doesn’t add much for the people already here except dollars needed on their rent checks. So the arrival of jobs up and down the tech sector skill set could be good for the area.


“We would welcome a company that creates opportunities for our young adults and families to secure local jobs,” wrote Jill Eisenhard, the founder and executive director of the community group Red Hook Initiative.

On the subject of people who live here, Totem’s Vivian Liao explained that it is itself one of the reasons Amazon might find Brooklyn most attractive.

“Everyone around the world knows Brooklyn’s reputation as an innovative and vibrant destination, and it’s the people who live and work here that make it so,” the Brooklyn real estate and tech strategist wrote. “Brooklyn has the infrastructure in the form of transit, talent, and real estate to provide Amazon a top-notch home.”

It kept coming back to talent.

Regina Myer, the head of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which has been a booster of the Brooklyn startup scene for years says that Brooklyn is the perfect place for HQ2.

“We have the talent, the transit, the culture, the education institutions, open space, innovation ecosystem, you name it,” she wrote in an email. “But most importantly we have a long history of hustle and grit, two qualities that clearly appeal to what might be the country’s first trillion-dollar company.”

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