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'We need Amazon,' Gov Cuomo says after report that it might cancel New York HQ2 plans

Key Points
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says politicians' opposition to Amazon's deal was "governmental malpractice."
  • Earlier, The Washington Post reported that Amazon was reconsidering bringing 25,000 jobs to New York following intense opposition from local politicians and residents.
  • Some local and regional officials have opposed the secretive nature of the state and city government's deal with Amazon and the offer of nearly $3 billion in performance-based incentives to bring the company to Long Island City.
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NY Governor Cuomo stands by incentive package for Amazon's HQ2

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lambasted local politicians who oppose his deal to bring Amazon's second "headquarters" to Long Island City, saying, "we have to make Amazon a reality."

"For the state Senate to oppose Amazon was governmental malpractice," Cuomo said at a news conference on Long Island, where he discussed the state budget for the region. "And if they stop Amazon from coming to New York, they're going to have the people of New York state to explain it to. It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy."

Cuomo's news conference came shortly after The Washington Post published a report on Friday saying Amazon is reconsidering bringing its new office, along with 25,000 jobs with an average salary of $150,000, to the Long Island City neighborhood in New York's Queens borough. Some state and local officials, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have opposed the nearly $3 billion in performance-based incentives the state and city government offered Amazon to lure the company to the city. City Council officials were not privy to the details of the package until after Amazon had selected New York as one of its two locations for its second headquarters.

Cuomo said the Post's story was evidence that local opposition has begun to scare off Amazon.

"You want to know how dangerous it is?" Cuomo asked. "There is a story today that says Amazon may not come to New York. If Amazon does not come to New York, it's because of the political opposition."

The governor said local opposition is standard procedure for change of any kind because "people just oppose change." But he argued the state would be giving up an enormous opportunity if it lost this deal with Amazon, saying the volume of high-paying jobs Amazon has promised to bring to the state is practically unheard of.

"I spend days trying to bring a business that has 100 jobs or 200 jobs," he said.

Opponents of the state and city's deal with Amazon have taken the reported reconsideration as a sign that their message is resonating with both locals and executives at the company. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx and parts of Queens in Congress, cheered the Post's story. "Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world's biggest corporations? Yes, they can," she tweeted.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a critic of the Amazon deal who was selected this week to serve on the state board that will ultimately approve or reject Amazon's deal, told CNBC on Friday that the report in the Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, was the first he heard of Amazon's reconsideration. But he suggested it could be part of a negotiation tactic.

"This is typical of the way Amazon has handled this situation," he said. "If they're trying to extort New York through anonymous threats, they're showing that they're not a responsible corporate actor to begin with. ... If their view is we want your $3 billion or we're leaving, maybe they should leave."

Cuomo, on the other hand, sees Amazon as a critical piece in his vision for New York's economy.

"You want to diversify your economy? You don't want to just be Wall Street and finance?" Cuomo asked. "We need Amazon."

—CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

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Watch: Amazon reconsidering New York headquarters after local opposition, according to Washington Post

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Amazon reconsidering New York headquarters after local opposition, according to Washington Post