NYC voters: Amazon HQ2 good, incentives not so much

A new Quinnipiac poll finds New Yorkers favor the project 57 percent to 26 percent, but are mixed about the billions in subsidies.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

At Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

James Martin/CNET

Amazon has faced loads of complaints in New York City since it announced plans last month to build a major new campus there.

But most local voters approve of the project, with some of the strongest support coming from Queens, where the new campus will be built, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Overall, 57 percent of New Yorkers polled approve of the plan, with 26 percent against it. Sixty percent of Queens residents supported the project, with 26 percent against.

The poll results aren't a total slam dunk for Amazon, since voters were mixed on their support for the $3 billion in incentives used to attract the company to the city. In all, 46 percent supported the incentives, while 44 percent opposed. In Queens, 55 percent supported the package, and 39 percent were against it.

Of the 1,075 New Yorkers polled, people overwhelmingly felt the city should have more of a say in the project, which is largely being reviewed by New York State. Also, 71 percent of those polled said they have shopped on Amazon.

Last month, Seattle-based Amazon unveiled plans to build major campuses in Long Island City, Queens, in New York, and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, DC. Each project is slated to bring 25,000 new jobs and a $2.5 billion investment from Amazon over a decade. Virginia and DC area politicians and voters have been notably quieter and mostly supportive about HQ2 coming there.

The poll results give Amazon, as well as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio -- who are two big backers of the HQ2 project -- a positive sign that their efforts to bring the corporate campus to Queens will be met warmly by most residents. The poll also offers a counter-narrative to the vocal opposition to HQ2, which included jokes about Amazon's plans for a helipad and a protest in Queens a few weeks ago.

Amazon's public policy Twitter account sent out a statement Wednesday night, saying the company is "thrilled to see strong support" from both New Yorkers and DC Metro residents for the new campuses, adding its work is just beginning.

Others viewed the poll results differently.

"New Yorkers are making clear they agree that too much inequality exists in our communities and giving billions of taxpayer dollars to trillion dollar corporations makes things worse, not better," said Jimmy Van Bramer, a New York City councilman, and Michael Gianaris, a state senator, in a statement. "It is also clear that the more people learn about the deal, the less they like it."

Van Bramer and Gianaris both represent Long Island City and have been strong critics of HQ2 coming to Queens. US Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents part of Queens but not Long Island City, has also been critical of the plan. US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson have expressed concerns about the incentives offered.

The City Council will be holding a series of meetings about HQ2, with the first taking place next Wednesday at City Hall, titled "Exposing the Closed-Door Process."

First published at 12:56 p.m. PT.
Updated at 6:16 p.m. PT: Adds Amazon statement.

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