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Nassau hoping for spinoff benefits from Amazon HQ2

Officials eye tax breaks for new apartments and help for local businesses to become suppliers to the online giant. 

An aerial view of the Long Island City

An aerial view of the Long Island City site, seen June 26, where Amazon proposes building its second headquarters. Photo Credit: AllCityAerial.com/Kevin P. Coughlin

As Amazon plans a second headquarters in Queens, Nassau County hopes to benefit from the resulting jobs and increased economic activity, officials said.

The county's Industrial Development Agency is exploring ways to capitalize on the proposed Amazon HQ2 project in Long Island City, where $2.5 billion is to be invested and 25,000 full-time workers will eventually be hired. 

IDA officials said they could provide tax breaks to proposed apartments in western parts of Nassau that would be within an easy commute of Amazon’s new office.

The officials said they intend to help local businesses to become suppliers of goods and services to the online retailer — and to entice Amazon suppliers to move to Nassau.

“We want to make Nassau County a key component of the Amazon project,” said IDA executive director Richard Kessel. “We should be prepared not only to accommodate the project but to take advantage of it to benefit the county’s economy.”

In November, Amazon, which is keeping its first headquarters in Seattle, announced Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., had won the continental competition for "HQ2," which eventually will be home to 50,000 jobs between the two sites.

Amazon is in line to receive New York State’s largest economic aid package ever: $1.5 billion, consisting of up to $1.2 billion in tax credits on 25,000 jobs over 10 years, plus a one-time grant of $325 million for office space.

In addition, New York City is providing a $386 million reduction in property taxes and nearly $900 million in job tax credits.

The incentives, valued at $2.8 billion, were denounced by some politicians who could potentially block the state approvals necessary for Amazon to receive state assistance.

“Amazon duped New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars to one of the wealthiest companies on Earth for a promise of jobs that would represent less than 3 percent of the jobs typically created in our city over a 10-year period,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), the Senate’s No. 2 leader.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has defended the incentives, saying the average pay of Amazon HQ2 employees will be more than $150,000 per year.

“New York’s bid for incentives was not close to being the highest compared to other states,” he said, adding Amazon was offered $7 billion by New Jersey, $8.5 billion by Maryland and more than $6 billion by Louisiana.

AMAZON HQ2 AT-A-GLANCE

Location: Long Island City, Queens

Company investment: $2.5 billion

State and NYC tax incentives: up to $2.8 billion

Jobs to be created: 25,000; average salary of more than $150,000 per year

SOURCES: Amazon, Empire State Development and New York City Economic Development Corp.

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