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Cuomo talks with Bezos, furiously trying to reclaim Amazon



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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who was stunned by Amazon's decision to withdraw from his plan to come to New York, is furiously working behind the scenes to attract the company, even in contact with Jeff Bezos, the founder from Amazon, for personal pitch.

The governor has had numerous phone conversations with Amazon executives, including Bezos, over the last two weeks, according to two people familiar with the effort. In these calls, Cuomo said he would lead the company throughout the Byzantine government process.

Mr. Cuomo has not proposed a new location but rather guarantees of support for the project, said one person. Amazon executives did not feel that this would be re-examined.

Leaders also learned that an open letter had been prepared for publication in the New York Times on Friday, also urging Bezos, the company's general manager, to turn the tide and build the Long Island City campus. in Queens.

The letter was signed by support unions, local businesses, community groups and elected officials, including representatives of Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, a great Democrat, and Carolyn Maloney, whose district encompasses the Amazon site, and the Former Mayor David N. Dinkins.

The letter stated that Mr. Cuomo "will personally assume responsibility for the Project's approval of the project and that the Mayor of Blasio will work with the Governor to manage the community development process".

Up to now at least, the company has shown no sign of reconsideration of its decision to abandon the deal, in which Amazon had promised to create up to 40,000 people in the world. Long Island City in return for a state grant of $ 500 million and resulting tax breaks to states and cities. finally totaled more than $ 2 billion.

A spokeswoman for Amazon declined a comment request.

The conversation between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Bezos seems to have been the first time the two men spoke of Amazon's plans for Queens, or the company's abrupt decision to cancel the project last February in the middle of the project. 'noisy opposition.

Since the conclusion of the agreement, Mr. Cuomo has publicly and privately explained that support for the project was and remains much more widespread than it could have been.

"I really think that Amazon should have stayed and fought the opposition," Cuomo said Tuesday during a talk on the radio. "It was a vocal minority opposition. Seventy percent of people support Amazon. "

He reiterated this message to Amazon officials during their calls, according to one of the people familiar with the exchanges, who both asked to remain anonymous to discuss private conversations.

The campus was to represent half of what had been called a second seat for the company; the other half, with roughly the same number of jobs, is still scheduled in a Virginia suburb, in the state of Washington.

But Amazon faced ferocious opponents – including local groups, some unions and political activists led by Surprise Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – from the moment they announced their plans for Queens last November. Three months later, without sustained political pressure and negative attention, the leaders decided to put an end to their activities.

Those familiar with the company's view have emphasized that the decision to abandon the New York City Plan was based on a convergence of factors, including strong opposition and the absence of any sign. that it could diminish.

The announcement, an open letter to Jeff Bezos that was to appear on a full page of Friday's newspaper, aims to combat the idea that opposition to Amazon is widespread, stating that a "clear majority" of New Yorkers supports the company.

"We know that the public debate that followed the announcement of the Long Island City project was harsh and unwelcoming," reads the letter, paid for by the Partnership for New York City, an important group of companies. 39; businesses. "Governor Cuomo will personally assume the responsibility of approving the project by the government and the mayor of Blasio will work with the governor to manage the community development process."

Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the partnership, said the letter was aimed not only at Amazon, but also at reassuring technology companies that New York was hosting their businesses: Likewise, it is a matter of business. a message addressed to the whole of the industry. "

"The governor's office was working with the business community on how to send this message," added Wylde. The result was the letter.

Many of those who signed the letter – including social housing leaders, unions such as Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ and the Greater New York Construction Trades Council – have always supported the agreement. The most vocal opponents were not among the signatories.

"We can find a way to raise working families and create jobs in the innovation economy," said Jeffries, who signed the letter in a statement. "Otherwise, the city that never sleeps may be a victim of sleep induced by the Luddites."

One thing has changed in the last two weeks: Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Leader of the Senate Democratic Majority, withdrew her candidacy from Senator Michael Gianaris to the obscure Dark Council of Control of Public Authorities. This post would have allowed Mr. Gianaris, who represents Long Island City, to vote against Amazon's development project when it was presented to the board of directors in about a year.

But Mr. Cuomo refused to appoint Mr. Gianaris – or to reject him formally. For example, last week, Stewart-Cousins ​​chose another Queens representative, Leroy Comrie, to sit on the board of directors, a person who would be more likely to get Governor approval.


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