Amazon ditches New York headquarters

The online retail giant reverses much-hyped decision after facing backlash from state and local politicians

Images of Amazon's Seattle, Washington, campus, in both the downtown and South Lake Union neighborhoods. (JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

Images of Amazon’s Seattle, Washington, campus, in both the downtown and South Lake Union neighborhoods. (JORDAN STEAD / Amazon)

Amazon will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search.

The online retailer faced opposition from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon was promised. The Seattle-based Amazon had planned to bring 25,000 jobs to New York, and spend $2.5 billion building its offices.

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“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion–we love New York,” the company said in a blog post, adding that it has 5,000 workers in the city and plans to grow those teams.

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Amazon said Thursday it does not plan to look for another location at this time, and will continue to build out offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Amazon announced in September 2017 that it was hunting for a second North American office, saying it would house as many as 50,000 employees.

Toronto threw its hat in the ring, along with Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax and Calgary, but was the only Canadian city on Amazon’s short list of 20 candidates. Toronto’s bid, which billed the city and surrounding municipalities as a culturally diverse, safe and affordable hub for potential corporate growth, met many of the criteria Amazon laid out when announcing plans for a second headquarters.

The company said it wanted to be near a metropolitan area with more than one million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to more than 740,000 square metres in the next decade.

Ed Clark, who was appointed last week by Premier Kathleen Wynne to head up the Greater Toronto Region’s bid, said the two biggest roadblocks a Toronto region bid would face are the pressure to spend large amounts on tax incentives and potential blowback to the firm created by U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to keep American companies from moving operations to other countries.

“It will be seen as a major political statement if Amazon says the next 50,000 jobs we create are going to be in Canada,” he said, after Toronto had been shortlisted. “Whether they will stand that political heat, we don’t know.”