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New York's image is 'a bit tarnished' after Amazon exit, says business group CEO

Key Points
  • When it comes to luring business to New York, the city may take a hit after Amazon announced its exit, says Kathryn Wylde, CEO of Partnership for New York City.
  • "New York's image as a place to do business is a bit tarnished," she says.
  • There is also "uncertainty in the minds of business ... about whether or not they will locate here," she adds.

When it comes to luring business to New York, the city may take a hit after Amazon announced it was ditching its plans to build half of its East Coast headquarters there, the head of a local business group told CNBC on Friday.

"New York's image as a place to do business is a bit tarnished and there's uncertainty in the minds of business, which they don't like, about whether or not they will locate here," said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of Partnership for New York City. The organization, which supported the deal to bring the tech giant to the city, is a nonprofit that represents the city's business leadership and large private-sector employers.

Amazon said Thursday it would not build a headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City following mounting opposition to its plans. The tech giant was offered nearly $3 billion in performance-based incentives, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the deal would still bring in $27 billion in revenue in exchange for that incentive package.

Activists and community members who opposed Amazon's plan to move into Queens rally in celebration of Amazon's decision to pull out of the deal, in the Long Island City neighborhood, February 14, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Wylde said the government had to put something on the table to lure Amazon.

"New York is the highest-taxed place in the country, and when we are competing with every other state and city, in places like Nashville and Dallas — runners-up to our application — it's pretty hard to compare our tax burden and cost burden there," she said on "Closing Bell. " " Employers here pay 20, 30 percent premium for employees in New York because of the cost of living, and then there's the taxes."

Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, applauded Amazon's exit. "We shouldn't be subsidizing companies to provide jobs."

He called Amazon's decision a "huge victory" for New Yorkers.

"We'll now be able to reset what the climate should be for businesses in New York," he told "Closing Bell." "If you want to come to New York, you actually have to deal with regular people. You actually have to make sure that people are included in the conversation and not displace working-class communities that have been here forever."

Wylde said while the expected tax revenue is a "big loss" for the city, she is optimistic that New York can move forward.

"We are going to figure out how to work together to make up for it and to keep our tech economy growing. It is our fastest-growing industry, and we need it," she said.