Amazon continues to expand its footprint in New York, bringing new jobs to the city in return for more generous tax breaks from the state.
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo announced that the e-commerce giant will be opening an administrative office in Hudson Yards, where the company plans to add 2,000 new jobs in finance, sales, marketing and information technology. Those workers will earn an average salary of $100,000, and Amazon will invest $55 million to outfit the Brookfield-owned space with energy-efficient standards, according to a press release.
In exchange, Empire State Development [ESD] has offered the company up to $20 million in tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program. Those credits are performance-based, and require that Amazon actually deliver the promised jobs.
"Amazon's further expansion in New York is proof positive that our strong economic climate, diverse workforce and talent, are helping to attract top-notch companies from around the world," the governor said in a statement.
News of the 359,000 square-foot office comes just weeks after Cuomo announced that New York City would be getting its first ever Amazon fulfillment center. That facility, a $100 million, 855,000 square-foot mega warehouse built on Staten Island's West Shore, arrived with $18 million state tax incentives.
Additionally, Amazon received $2 million in ESD credits for "an innovative Fashion Photography and Videography Studio in Brooklyn" in 2012, and $5 million for an administrative office on 34th Street in 2014—bringing the total taxpayer cost of Amazon's NYC expansion to $45 million over the past five years. That money is expected to create over 4,800 jobs, according to ESD Press Secretary Amy Varghese.
In the eyes of some fiscal policy experts, New York's open-handed approach to business tax incentives, a cornerstone of Governor Cuomo's time in office, makes little sense when the recipient is a corporate behemoth like Amazon.
"While commercial retail vacancies abound from Broadway to Bleeker, state policy is to give taxpayer money to the world's highest valued online retailer," Alex Camarda, a senior policy consultant at the watchdog group Reinvent Albany, told Gothamist. "It's high time [Empire State Development] evaluated the effectiveness of the state's economic development policies, and made public all the taxpayer subsidies companies receive."
"Taxpayers expect that elected officials are only agreeing to subsidize corporations on the grounds that there would be no investment and jobs here without the subsidy," added James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Center for New York City Affairs. "Otherwise, it's just a gift, and why is that necessary?"