As inflation continues to hamper the economy, tech companies have found themselves laying off employees, Amazon included. The mega-retailer has found itself looking to shed employees as it looks for cost savings. That search for savings has led to the delay in what was going to be one of the company’s crown jewels, its HQ2 on the east coast.
The Associated Press reports, “Amazon is pausing construction of its second headquarters in Virginia following the biggest round of layoffs in the company’s history and its shifting plans around remote work.
The Seattle-based company is delaying the beginning of construction of PenPlace, the second phase of its headquarters development in northern Virginia, Amazon’s real estate chief John Schoettler said in a statement. He said the company has already hired more than 8,000 employees and will welcome them to the Met Park campus, the first phase of development, when it opens this June.
“We’re always evaluating space plans to make sure they fit our business needs and to create a great experience for employees, and since Met Park will have space to accommodate more than 14,000 employees, we’ve decided to shift the groundbreaking of PenPlace (the second phase of HQ2) out a bit,” Schoettler said.
He also emphasized the company remains “committed to Arlington” and the local region, which Amazon picked — along with New York City — to be the site of its new headquarters, known as HQ2, several years ago. More than 230 municipalities had initially competed to house the projects. New York won the competition by promising nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and grants, among other benefits, but opposition from local politicians, labor leaders and progressive activists led Amazon to scrap its plans there.”
The New York Times writes, “The decision to delay a large part of the prominent construction project, which it called HQ2, came as Amazon and other big tech employers have made the most significant cuts to their work forces in at least 15 years.
The companies are also struggling to figure out what to do with their offices as their workers continue to spend at least part of the time working from home. Nearly three years after the pandemic shut down workplaces, few tech companies have required their employees to return to the office full time.
“For HQ2 to be on pause is emblematic of the pause that tech has hit all across the industry,” said Jeffrey D. Shulman, a marketing professor at the University of Washington who has researched Amazon’s impact on Seattle, its hometown. “HQ2 is the perfect emblem of where we were and where we are, and just how different they are.”
The HQ2 project has several clusters of development in Virginia, just over the Potomac River from Washington. The pause will affect PenPlace, the second and larger stage, which would build a mix of office towers, open space and a signature, spiraling glass building Amazon calls the Helix.
In 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez opposed New York City being the home of Amazon’s HQ2, helping kill the Big Apple getting a big slice of the pie from the project. At the time, Governor Andrew Cuomo called it a “lost economic opportunity” and blamed “a small group [of] politicians [who] put their own narrow political interests above their community,” according to TIME Magazine.
Now the leftwing politician is taking a victory lap, despite the fact that her party’s economic policies are driving Amazon’s need to cut costs.
She tweeted, “When I opposed this Amazon project coming to New York bc it was a scam of public funds, the whole power establishment came after us,” she tweeted. “Billboards went up in Times Sq denouncing me. Powerful pols promised revenge. Op-Eds & CEOs insulted my intelligence. In the end, we were right.”
“I know I’ll never get an apology for that time, but it was worth it,” she continued. “We protected NYers from a scam deal to drain public dollars from schools & infrastructure in exchange for empty promises of ‘Amazon jobs’ w/ 0 guarantees or guardrails. Sadly, cities who took it are suffering.”
AOC’s “I told you so” was mocked all over social media, noting that she was chasing publicity at the expense of her constituents.
“The construction setback comes four years after the company wanted to construct its second headquarters in Long Island City, a move that was supposed to bring some 25,000 jobs to the region.
Amazon would have received $3 billion in state and local tax breaks, which some lawmakers thought was too generous,” The New York Post, wrote.
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