New York City's Response to Making Amazon's Shortlist: Of Course We Did

By Joseph De Avila and Keiko Morris Features Dow Jones Newswires

Don't count New York City politicians among officials surprised to make the shortlist for Amazon.com Inc.'s second headquarters.

Continue Reading Below

In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio said: "No city in the world has the talent New York City can offer."

"New York continues to attract top companies from all over the world," said Howard Zemsky, commissioner of Empire State Development, the state's economic development arm. "We look forward to building on this incredible momentum."

While New York is best known as the center of financial markets and the media industry, its tech sector has grown in recent years. Technology companies such as Google parent, Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have expanded in the city. Cornell University invested in a new engineering presence, opening its first permanent campus on Roosevelt Island last year.

Alicia Glen, the city's deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said it is a misconception to think New York doesn't have enough engineers to support a new employer like Amazon.

"We are really going to put that falsehood to bed," Ms. Glen said. "We do have the talent."

Continue Reading Below

The prospect of Amazon's second headquarters -- New York is among 20 finalists -- underscores the need for improving infrastructure such as transportation and continuing to expand workforce training and education and affordable housing, business advocates and real-estate executives said.

"I think we need to show Amazon that we are serious about infrastructure, " said Bill Rudin, chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry group, and chief-executive Rudin Management Co. "And education is an important component from pre-K all the way up to masters degrees."

The city is pitching Amazon locations in Midtown West, Long Island City in Queens, Brooklyn Tech Triangle and lower Manhattan. City officials are prepared to take Amazon staff on tours at the four sites, Ms. Glen said.

In the last several years, Brooklyn has become an office destination for small to midsize companies in advertising, media, architecture and fashion, but the relocation of a large corporate tenant has been elusive.

"Brooklyn doesn't have those corporate institutions, anchor institutions, " said Andrew Hoan, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. "This is a big moment to say that we play in that arena."

New York City isn't offering any tax credits to bring Amazon to town. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration has said it would assist Amazon with an undisclosed amount of tax incentives.

Unlike other cities that went to extravagant lengths to catch Amazon's eye, New York City officials said they wanted the region's strengths -- 5.8 million residents with a bachelor's degree or higher and the largest public-transportation network in the U. S. -- to seal the deal.

"We don't need to send them 10,000 bagels and keep harassing them," Ms. Glen said. "Our bid speaks for itself."

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com and Keiko Morris at Keiko.Morris@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 18:05 ET (23:05 GMT)