By Aleeza Kazmi and Briana Panetta
Long Island officials met with New York State and city officials in Manhattan last Tuesday to discuss a coordinated pitch to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to New York.
Empire State Development, New York State’s economic development agency, is coordinating efforts to bring the tech giant’s second headquarters to the state, and Long Island’s chamber of commerce, Long Island Association, wants to bring it to the Island.
“I don’t think it’s going to make a difference whether it’s in New Jersey or Long Island, I don’t think it’s going to do much for the smaller companies, Amazon is already nationwide,” Robert Wahlen, CEO of Techs in a Sec, a computer support company said.
Amazon released a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) earlier this month with an extensive list of criteria for what they are calling “HQ2”. The requirements for their $5 billion dollar investment include a business-friendly and stable environment, an area containing more than a million people, and an urban or suburban location with potential to house their workforce. The Long Islander reached out to Amazon for a comment but they failed to respond.
“Long Island checks all the boxes of the RFP requirements,” Matthew Cohen, Long Island Association Vice President of Government Affairs & Communications, said.
Amazon will begin to search for talent once the final decision of the location is made, according to the RFP. The RFP also states that the technology company projects to hire around 50,000 full-time employees with an average salary exceeding $100,000.
“Long Island already has a very strong technology center and Amazon is one of the global leaders in technology,” Paul Trapani, Vice President of LISTnet, said. “In addition to all the great companies we have here for technology, we also have some of the top universities like Stony Brook, Hofstra, and NYIT, that are sources of technology talent.”
Current revitalization of 40 downtowns across the island make it a prime location for an Amazon workforce, Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a not-for-profit focused on downtown development and infrastructure investment on Long Island, said.
“Not everyone is going to live right at Amazon’s campus,” Alexander said. “To have downtown housing opportunities and experience that are nearby, you know Long Island needs to be an exciting place for that type of workforce.”
But Long Island is just one of many places attempting to woo Amazon. “Many different regions throughout New York State are also interested in bringing Amazon to them but the state will ultimately have to pick one horse and run with it.” Cohen said. Specific sites for the proposed headquarters are being discussed in both Suffolk and Nassau County, Cohen added.
Some in the technology industry think it may be detrimental to competitors on the island.
“This will have the same effect as Walmart, BJ’s, and Costco did. They will knock the smaller competition off the island,” Tony O’Hara, a New York City Department of Education engineer, said. “The three I mentioned are feeling the effects of Amazon already and have been trying to gain Internet sales which Amazon is basically eating up like wildfire.”
Long Island officials have until October 19 to submit their proposal but residents of the island will have to wait until 2018 to find out if Amazon picks it for the location of their second headquarters.