The new Amazon warehouse in Syosset.

The new Amazon warehouse in Syosset. Credit: Howard Schnapp

No one should be surprised.

Amazon's decision to close its warehouse facility in Bethpage and move the jobs there to other locations, including its newest nearly finished building in Syosset, is just the latest frustrating chapter in this all-too-predictable saga.

And so much of it was avoidable.

Amazon first eyed this region four years ago, when the behemoth chose Long Island City as a location for its second headquarters. Company executives came to a deal with then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, an agreement that could have added 25,000 jobs to the region's payrolls and $27 billion in tax revenue to the state's coffers. But within a few months, small-thinking politicians killed the dream, objecting in part to the tax breaks Amazon was offered at the time. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even erroneously argued that the $3 billion in various proposed tax incentives was a "give away" of cash that could be spent elsewhere. 

"We could invest those $3 billion in our district, ourselves, if we wanted," Ocasio-Cortez said.

Of course, that wasn't true and that's not what happened when the Amazon deal died, since New York didn't have a pile of $3 billion in cash that it was handing to Amazon on a silver platter. Those incentives instead would have been built into how Amazon paid taxes, and were based on Amazon creating the jobs and building the campus it promised.

Those promises are coming true in Alexandria, Virginia, Amazon's alternate choice for its second headquarters. More than 5,000 employees already have been hired to work at the new complex.

But here, we're not getting those jobs, or the revenue or the other economic ripple effects. Instead, we're stuck only with what we likely would have had anyway — a mess of Amazon warehouses and last-mile facilities that have cropped up across the Island. 

And we're giving them tax breaks, too. While tax incentives made lots of sense for 25,000 high-paying, skilled jobs at a headquarters that would've changed the region and the state for the better, they don't work for warehouse space that can't be moved to Alexandria or, well, anywhere.

The newest facility in Syosset is located on the former Cerro Wire property, another piece of land that should've and could've been so much more. In exchange for pledging to add 150 jobs, Amazon got tax incentives from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. But now, the company says it's going to close an existing warehouse in Bethpage and move some jobs to Syosset and elsewhere. That, of course, isn't the same as creating new jobs — and it's yet another stab in the heart of a region that should've and could've gotten so much more from the online retail giant.

The Nassau IDA says it is meeting with Amazon and will hold the company to its promise, or claw back the tax breaks. But it's a bit absurd that Long Island politicians are now begging Amazon executives to establish 150 warehouse jobs, when elected officials to the west rejected the opportunity for 166 times more than that. Years after city politicians destroyed the real opportunity Long Island wanted and needed, the Island is left to fight for a tiny sliver of what could have been.

It's a long way to fall, from the high of nearly reaping the benefits of winning a transformative economic jackpot to the low of struggling not to lose a lousy game of warehouse musical chairs. But when you keep embracing the options of least resistance, you just keep falling further.

Columnist Randi F. Marshall's opinions are her own.

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