Two weeks after Amazon announced it was abandoning its deal to come to Queens because of vocal opposition from local officials and activists, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has swooped into the city to tell major financial firms that they won’t have such problems in his state.
“Florida is a place where businesses can do well without having to face some of the political hostility that they deal with in other parts of the country,” the Republican said in a meeting Thursday with six companies, according to his office.
“Our posture here is one of welcoming, not one of demagoguery and prejudice.”
The companies included JPMorgan Chase.
DeSantis’ trip coincided with the release on Friday of a full-page ad signed by 78 business, union and government leaders urging Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider his decision to cancel plans to build an HQ2 campus in Long Island City.
Gov. Cuomo, who is leading the charge to win back the retail giant, conceded on Friday that the ad was also aimed at assuring other businesses that New York isn’t hostile to them.
“Please don’t be confused. We’re open for business. If we don’t get new business, good night. That’s how our state survives,” Cuomo told WNYC.
He blamed the Amazon defeat on “local, petty politics” and “distortions” spread by a “small, vocal minority.”
“We want young people coming here and the talent . . . We are the commerce capital of the country,” he said.
Government watchdog E.J. McMahon, of the Empire Center, warned that the Amazon ordeal would be noticed by other firms.
“The Amazon fiasco definitely sent a signal, and it’s not a good signal from multiple angles,” McMahon said.
“Governor DeSantis couldn’t have picked a better time to work on poaching New York businesses, especially high earners in finance. More than a few will no doubt find it tempting to at least listen to Florida’s pitch.”
Cuomo admitted it was unlikely Amazon would return, saying, “They’ve given no indication that they would reconsider.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of the most vocal critics of the $3 billion in tax incentives offered to Amazon in the deal — said Cuomo should have consulted more with members of the community in the first place.
“If the elected officials spent half as much talking to the community as they do Jeff Bezos, we might have come to an agreement,” she said in a statement.
Cuomo’s office, meanwhile, said he was not worried about Florida poaching businesses.
“Florida may have warmer weather, but here in New York we have better schools, a higher skilled workforce, more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and a high-tech sector that has been growing by 15,000 jobs a year,” a spokesman said.
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