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Cuomo touts Amazon's HQ2 project in Queens as 'major economic plus'

At a business meeting in Manhattan, the governor said the plan is "the largest economic development program in the history of this state."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen on Thursday, says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen on Thursday, says the proposed Amazon HQ2 project will create thousands of highly paid jobs. Photo Credit: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuo/Don Pollard

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave a full-throated defense Thursday of the Amazon HQ2 project in Long Island City, Queens, calling it “a major economic plus.”

The governor’s comments to a business group in Manhattan came after a state senator who opposes the Amazon deal was nominated to a state board that could potentially scuttle the proposed project.

On Long Island, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency is developing plans to award tax breaks for housing projects that are within an easy commute of Long Island City and to help local companies become suppliers of goods and services to the new Amazon office.

After expansion announcements by Amazon and Google, the Long Island Software & Technology Network (LISTnet) launched an advisory council to address the challenges local technology companies face in recruiting skilled employees. The Tech Advisory Council includes executives and representatives from nine Island companies and three universities. 

“Amazon coming to Queens with 25,000 great paying jobs is a major economic plus for this state,” Cuomo said at the Association for a Better New York luncheon on Thursday. The project is “the largest economic development program in the history of this state.”

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), deputy leader of the legislature’s upper chamber, has vowed to derail the nearly $3 billion in state and city tax incentives awarded to Amazon. His nomination to the state Public Authorities Control Board by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) would give him a say if Cuomo approves the appointment. 

Cuomo criticized the Gianaris nomination when it was announced this week but was mum about it on Thursday.

The Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, said Amazon HQ2 will benefit the local economy. "Elected officials, especially in the State Senate, should not play politics with such an important economic development opportunity," said Kevin Law, LIA president and co-vice chairman of Cuomo's Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

The control board must approve a one-time grant of $325 million to Amazon and the State Legislature must lift a cap on state tax credits so Amazon can receive up to $1.2 billion in credits on the 25,000 jobs it plans to create over 10 years.

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

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