Dan Patterson discusses the negative reaction many New Yorkers are having towards Amazon's decision to invest billions in the Big Apple.
CNET's Dan Patterson discusses the negative reaction that many New Yorkers are having towards Amazon's investment in the Big Apple. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
Karen Roby: Amazon choosing not one, but two cities for its second home. Why two cities? What does it have to do with the talent pool?
Dan Patterson: Well, Amazon, after more than a year of searching, has decided to split HQ2, that's the name of their second headquarters, into Virginia and New York City. The rationale behind this could be perceived as access to talent as well as access to lobbying power that is, of course, in Virginia, very close to Washington D.C. and New York as the center of North America's economy, and of course, there is plenty of technologies down in New York City. The more cynical take on this is that Amazon received billions of dollars in incentives. So this is according to Dana Rubinstein writing for Politico. New York City alone provided $3.1 billion of incentives for 25,000 jobs. That amounts to 120,000 in public funding per job. HQ2 looks as though it will be in Long Island City, Queens, which is right next to one of the city's largest public housing projects. This means that gentrification that's already spreading rapidly throughout the city will continue to drive up rent prices and hammer on transportation.
Of course, it's taken the city 50 some plus years to build a 2nd avenue subway line, and what many people don't know is that New York State controls the MTA. That is the subway system here in the city, not the city. There is one subway line that goes from Long Island city to Manhattan, that's the seven train. So there will be intense use of public transportation and public funds. And of course, these incentives only add to it. The outrage here in New York City is significant from both politicians, residents, and in fact, the tech community as well.
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Karen Roby: From the job perspective, we're talking about $150,000+ jobs here. How many are they talking about bringing, because on the flip side, so many of the other cities that of course bid for this and didn't get it, and were upset by that news, understandably, but it's got to be the good news, the terms of what it's bringing?
Dan Patterson: Well, $120,000 salary sounds like a lot of money in New York City. It's not a lot of money. And again, when you dump all of those salaries very close to where people who make under $50,000 live and work, it's very challenging to see an upside to this. Again, when the city is subsidizing a significant portion of these jobs, it's challenging to understand how this will be an economic benefit to the city. But of course, there are some upsides to having Amazon located here, including one of the world's largest technology companies close to a Wall Street and other financial power centers.
Karen Roby: And the other location, of course, being about three miles from the heart there of D.C. Talk about that a little bit. Are we seeing some of the same backlash there, or is it being better received?
Dan Patterson: Yeah, we're seeing very similar backlash, particularly given some of the same issues, which is large sellers right next to places that need public subsidies, the infrastructure and traffic challenges, of course. And really, this seems as though it's very obvious Amazon chose two places that put them very close to centers of power, economic power and political power after spending more than a year of asking other cities to audition for them.
Karen Roby: Yeah, and a lot of people are upset of course, saying that they came out of the gates knowing which direction they were wanting to go in, and so many cities out vying for it, hoping for this as it will be obviously a huge help for them. But this is where they've ended up. So how do you see this going? How do you see it unfolding from here?
Dan Patterson: Well, I think that Amazon will continue to press onward, that this will happen, and it will be a political outrage for the local communities. Other communities will continue to feel burned, and Amazon will launch their headquarters.
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