ALBANY — With critics still ripping the deal to bring Amazon to New York City, Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday said it is time to move from the “ideological debate” over whether to offer the company tax incentives to the more “practical” discussion on how to address community fears.
Cuomo during a radio interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” again defended the project and the government subsidies offered by the state and city. But he also acknowledged that community concerns need to addressed either in talks with Amazon or by the city and state themselves.
“Amazon coming to New York is an unparalleled economic boom for the economy,” Cuomo said. “It diversifies the economy, it provides high paying jobs, a diversity of jobs.
“But you also need to make sure the impact of the development helps and doesn’t hurt the local community. And to the extent the ‘pieces’ of the agreement that address the needs of the local community are in place. That is very important.”
Cuomo said the project not only needs to benefit the city and the state, but “everyone, everywhere.”
“And those are the matters that we can either do as a government, city and state working together, or with Amazon,” he said.
Cuomo dismissed concerns about the use of up to nearly $3 billion in tax incentives to lure Amazon to Long Island City as an “ideological” discussion.
While some are against such incentives, Cuomo said “in this state (they) are the bread and butter of economic development.”
The priority now , he said, should be moving away from the ideological and more to the practical.
“What does the community want vis-a-vis this development?” he said. “How do we help the local community groups and the local community needs? And, of course, we want to do that.”
Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat and leading critic of the deal, said the debate over the tax incentives is more than ideological.
“It’s a very real debate that is unresolved and is a big part of the discussion,” Gianaris said. “Three billion (dollars) to Amazon is not something we can just blow past and accept, especially when there are real concerns in the neighborhood about what that is going to do to them.”
Gianaris, whose district includes the Long Island City site where Amazon would locate, various elected officials and other critics of the deal are set to hold a press conference Wednesday morning by City Hall.
After a nationwide competition to create a second Amazon headquarters, the online retail giant wound up splitting the project between Long Island City and Virginia.
The New York component is expected to create at least 25,000 jobs that pay an average of $150,000.
Critics have blasted the lack of transparency until the project was awarded and the use of billions of dollars in government tax incentives to lure one of the richest companies in the world to New York.