After months of speculation on where Amazon would decide to hold court, the online retail giant finally announced the locations of its headquarters, which will be split in two cities: Crystal City, Virginia and Long Island City in New York.
It didn’t take long before City Hall and nearly every politician in town crowed about Amazon’s promise to make at least 25,000 hires in positions paying an average of $150,000, after being promised up to $2.2 billion in state and city giveaways. Of course good-paying jobs are a benefit to New Yorkers. However, we still can’t help but feel the city has really turned its back on small businesses this time.
As the long-stalled effort to get the Small Business Jobs Survival Act passed proves, no one is afraid to parrot the real estate industry’s argument that the demise of mom-and-pops has more to do with online shopping than exorbitant rent. At the hearing for the SBJSA, a representative of the city’s Small Business Services agency argued against the bill, warning of “unintended consequences” like landlords being more hesitant to lease to small businesses.
But in the haste to net this big fish, have the mayor and the governor not stopped to think about what the unintended consequences are of bending over backwards to court a corporation when the existing businesses in this city get no tax breaks and pay high rent with very little lease negotiating power?
While the location of Amazon’s offices won’t change anything in New Yorkers’ shopping habits, our takeaway from this deal is that we wish the city was this motivated to help mom-and-pops, ones whose owners didn’t expect a massive payout just to open, operate and hire locally, but who chose to do so and could use a break, any break really, a lot more than Amazon can.
On that note, November 24 is Small Business Saturday. Town & Village encourages readers to shop local.