Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams has privately signaled that he is ready to strengthen a relationship between Amazon, other tech giants and City Hall if he wins the November election, according to people familiar with Adam’s recent talks with New York business leaders .
Adams’ openness to cultivating stronger ties with Amazon stems from the e-commerce giant looking to expand its presence in New York after a deal for a Queens headquarters was canceled in 2019. Adams favored winning the mayor’s race against Republican Curtis Sliwa.
Amazon has plans to build in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens after strong opposition from progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y. Amazon had promised to create at least 25,000 jobs, but critics said the company was receiving too many tax breaks and not involving the local community.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was a proponent of the original deal, beat up Amazon after its withdrawal, targeting its billionaire founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos directly.
“The expansion of the retail giant in New York met with resistance, not least because the frustration with American companies increased,” wrote de Blasio at the time in a comment in the New York Times. “For decades, wealth and power have been concentrated at the top. There is no better example of this than Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world. “
De Blasio and his team were approached by allies in the business world during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 to resume high-level talks with Amazon, including possibly talks with Bezos himself, according to one person briefed on the matter. De Blasio had signaled that he was not interested, said this person.
These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations. A spokesman for de Blasio did not respond to any requests for comment prior to publication.
Even without the deal, the tech giant and others have found ways to expand in New York. The Amazon spokesman said more than 34,000 jobs had been created in New York. Google plans to invest $ 250 million in New York to create more jobs. Facebook rents tons of office space in New York.
However, according to a company spokesman, Amazon appears ready to expand its presence even further.
When asked if Amazon would like to partner with a new mayor and open more offices in New York, Zachary Goldsztejn, a press rep for the company, said in an email that while Amazon has created over 34,000 jobs in the state, it does is trying to continue investing in the Empire State and working with local officials, including newly elected leaders.
A spokesman for Adams did not deny that the Democratic candidate hopes to partner with Amazon and other tech giants, but noted that he is only willing to partner with companies that have New Yorkers’ interests in mind.
“Eric has made it clear that he believes companies of all sizes should be welcome here in New York as long as they have the interests of working people in mind,” Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement to CNBC . “As Mayor, Eric will create the environment for business growth and homes to empower the middle-income and working class New Yorkers who need their economies to work for them.”
Adams himself said during the Democratic primaries that he supported a deal with Amazon in Long Island City with specific provisions.
“I would have supported the establishment of the Amazon deal in Queens with modifications,” Adams told the New York Times at the time. “I would have allowed them [local residents] Be part of the social service contract. Allowed them to be part of the kind of jobs, pursuits for the young people in this field, retraining. I would have made sure we had decent prevailing wages and good benefits and New York could have gone ahead. And I really believe the way Amazon does business is really going to change. “
Amazon may also be interested in working with a newly run town hall for another reason. The new CEO Andy Jassy grew up in Scarsdale, NY. The city is located in the Hudson Valley, about 30 minutes from New York City.
In 2014, Jassy, who was running Amazon Web Services at the time, returned to the city where he was graduating from high school to address the community.
When asked who inspired him back then, Jassy pointed to Bezos. “My boss, Jeff Bezos,” Jassy said on a local news report about the event. “He’s the most brilliant thinker I know, he’s incredibly creative, has a technical flair and an unusual level of empathy for customers,” he added.