With Amazon reportedly reconsidering its decision to open a second headquarters in New York City, a group of upstate New York legislators want the company to bring the project north to central New York or the Finger Lakes region.
The Republican lawmakers, including state Sens. Bob Antonacci and Pam Helming, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Assemblymen Will Barclay, Gary Finch and Brian Manktelow, are urging Amazon to open its second headquarters, dubbed "HQ2", between Rochester and Syracuse.
The pitch comes as Amazon's proposed second headquarters in Queens faces opposition from some state and local officials. The Washington Post reported on Friday that Amazon is reconsidering and could move the headquarters to another state.
Amazon plans to open its headquarters in Long Island City and hire at least 25,000 workers. Between the state and New York City governments, up to $3 billion in incentives would be awarded to the project. The funds include a state grant and tax credits linked to job creation goals.
But there has been opposition to the project due to the level of public investment — critics have labeled it "corporate welfare" — and the potential impact on neighborhoods in Queens. There are concerns it may adversely impact the housing market and lead to gentrification.
While the project may face opposition in New York City, the upstate contingent told Amazon that it's welcome to place its new headquarters in the Rochester-Syracuse corridor.
"We would be willing to work with them to help boost economic and job growth in our region," said Antonacci, R-Onondaga, who sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urging him to consider the move.
Rochester and Syracuse were part of proposals submitted during Amazon's HQ2 selection process. Rochester and Buffalo partnered to submit a proposal, while central New York created its own pitch. However, no upstate sites were included in the company's list of finalists.
Last fall, Amazon selected New York City and Northern Virginia to host HQ2 sites.
Now that the New York City proposal may be in jeopardy, upstate legislators highlighted the region's assets. With several colleges and universities nearby, Amazon would have access to a "rich pool of potential candidates" for its new campus, according to the lawmakers.
The group of legislators also noted that there's access to transportation hubs — and Rochester and Syracuse have airports — and there are shovel-ready sites in the region.
"Our unmatched quality of life and beautiful environment draw visitors from across the world and would certainly help Amazon in their efforts to attract top talent," Helming, R-Canandaigua, said.
For now, it seems the state's best chance of landing HQ2 is in Queens. Despite opposition from some local officials, the project is supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo, who criticized state Senate Democrats for opposing the project, said last week that it's the largest economic development transaction in the state's history. He acknowledged that Amazon would receive $3 billion in incentives, but explained the company will generate a projected $27 billion in tax revenue over a 25-year period.
If Amazon were to choose another state for HQ2, Cuomo said it would be a "tremendous loss."
The upstate delegation hopes that while it may be a loss for New York City, it would be a gain for the Rochester-Syracuse region.
"Amazon.com in upstate New York would be transformative," Barclay, R-Pulaski, said.