Super Cities №154 —  Amazon’s Coming to Town

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

Amazon in Long Island City in New York City

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”


It’s official. Amazon is coming en masse to NYC.

As part of its deal, Amazon pledged:

  • more than 25,000 full-time high-paying jobs
  • approximately $2.5 billion in Amazon investment
  • 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space with an opportunity to expand to 8 million square feet
  • an estimated incremental tax revenue of more than $10 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation

Nevertheless, some New York politicians aren’t happy:

Like prime real estate holdings, cities cannot become powerful innovation ecosystems without anchor tenants.

In addition to its long-time residents, like NYU and Columbia, New York City has built a nice roster of anchor tenants over a decade-plus: Cornell Tech, Google, Facebook, and now Amazon.

With Amazon planting a flag in an outer borough, it has the chance to do some important work in urban collaboration. Sure, Amazon should run courses for local students. But it should do more than that.

In coordination with city agencies and other stakeholders, it should run pilot projects for drone delivery. It should create maker spaces for aspiring entrepreneurs. It should create distribution opportunities for local artist to sell their goods around the world. It should take stewardship over green spaces and cultural institutions.

To succeed in NYC, you have to be part of NYC.

You have to live the grind. You have to live the culture. You have to live the energy.

If Amazon becomes part of NYC, it will have no better partner. If it doesn’t, the politicians, community leaders, and salty natives will eat it bit by bit.

PS: My only beef with Amazon coming to New York City is choosing Queens. I mean, really?

Brooklyn would be cool, the Bronx would be audacious, and Manhattan would be practical.

Queens is just Queens.

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