What if the next glass tower going up in Brooklyn were to be the East Coast headquarters of Amazon?
Amazon indicated HQ2 could have an enormous economic impact in the city it chooses. The company says it will spend $5 billion on construction of its headquarters, and create 50,000 high-paying jobs. In Seattle, the home of its HQ1, the company said it created $38 billion in economic activity between 2010 and 2016.
We’re excited to be one step closer to landing the 50,000 good-paying jobs in Amazon’s HQ2. No city in the world has the talent New York City can offer! https://t.co/4Z3nLBDZoi
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 18, 2018
New York’s proposal to Amazon located four neighborhoods that city officials thought would be a good fit: Midtown West, the Financial District, Long Island City and our own Brooklyn Tech Triangle (Dumbo, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Navy Yard and surrounding blocks). The NYCEDC lists several compelling reasons why the Brooklyn location might work for Amazon, including its 13 subway lines, proximity to Manhattan and the airports, 70 arts organizations, and 1.5 million workers within 45 minutes of the area.
“This has really created quite the conversation in our office,” said Dani Simons, of the Regional Plan Association, an urban planning think tank in New York. She said many of her coworkers thought it would be interesting if the Newark and New York bids combined. “I think the advantages it would bring both places to collaborate and to the regional economy would be tremendous…There’s a lot of pressure on industrial and manufacturing land in Brooklyn and Amazon could be a good use for that.”
Julie Samuels, the executive director of Tech:NYC, a membership organization for New York’s startup and tech companies, was focused on the people it could bring.
“Amazon building its second headquarters in New York City would be a boon to our tech ecosystem by creating tons of jobs, spurring investment, and attracting further tech talent to our city,” she said in an email Thursday via a spokesman.
Jobs are great. Employment is better than the alternative, and more labor demand drives up wages. But HQ2 has its critics as well. Tom Angotti is a professor emeritus of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College and has served as the director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development.
“I would suggest Amazon locate its HQ somewhere in rural New York,” he wrote to Technical.ly in an email Thursday morning. “That way they will have to take full responsibility for planning and developing an urban infrastructure instead of forcing it on a city that is already overstretched. And it would reduce the risk of another major round of displacement of existing city residents and small businesses.”
Skyrocketing rents and overburdened transportation are already two of Brooklyn’s biggest problems. Those forced out by gentrification in the borough even protested a startup pitch competition in the Tech Triangle last year. But Anthony Hogrebe, a spokesman for the NYCEDC says that it has already begun work to train all kinds of New Yorkers for the labor demands Amazon might have, meaning it would be a benefit not only to the coders and designers of the labor market.
“As part of our bid, we got support from dozens of academic institutions as well as smaller tech training and skills partners and we’re ready to convene with folks and proactively create pipelines and programming so that we can make sure New Yorkers of all backgrounds get those skills and can slot into those positions on day one,” Hogrebe said by phone Thursday.
Amazon expects to make a decision before the end of 2018.