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‘We got nothing.’: New York City business owners mourn the loss of Amazon jobs

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Many are saying now that New York City is dead business-wise due to pandemic lockdowns and the incompetence of Mayor de Blasio. Two years later the site that would have housed Amazon’s new headquarters remains vacant, a scar on the conscience of New Yorkers. Business owners mourn the loss amid the shutting down of livelihoods in the Big Apple — many to never reopen.

Originally, Amazon planned to build a massive headquarters along the Queens waterfront. The empty lot is a painful reminder of the jobs that might have been. At the time, progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) demanded that Amazon go away because they would not play with the unions. They claimed workers’ rights would be violated but it is hard to hurt a potential employee more than denying them work in the first place.

“The site just sits there empty. It’s terrible,” said Donna Driver, owner of the Matted LIC art gallery and gift store. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. People say, ‘If we only had Amazon.’ We got nothing.” A significant number of New Yorkers including most business owners blame Mayor de Blasio for the state of things currently.

Amazon would have provided 25,000 jobs. Instead, they were chased off by vicious opposition from local politicians. That would include Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Mike Gianaris. They denied jobs to New Yorkers while theirs were assured.

Now, as COVID-19 has ravaged the city’s economy, no one is doing anything to save New York’s businesses… the lifeblood of the state.

A ton of candidates are now lining up to run for governor seeing the weakness displayed by de Blasio. One of those is Democratic Rep. Max Rose, a freshman congressman from Staten Island who recently lost his race for reelection. He just announced an exploratory campaign Saturday for New York City’s mayor.

Rose is an outspoken critic of de Blasio and is painted as a moderate. However, he lobbies for universal income and a whole list of leftist causes.

Rose addressed his likely campaign Saturday, saying, “If you want someone with a typical politician, typical government experience, you’ve got plenty of other folks.”

“But if you want someone with experience and guts and ability to end our broken politics, then I could be your candidate,” he added. “If someone wants to tout their experience in city politics, then they should certainly not be pointing at problems that they helped – big problems – that they helped create.

“They can’t act as if they aren’t holding the shovel,” Rose continued.

Rose is a veteran who had never held elected office before being elected to Congress in 2018.

He acknowledged Saturday that he would start the race with an “underdog campaign,” but added that “this would not just be a campaign that involves me being the underdog.”

“This is a campaign that would be fighting for the underdog,” he said.

In August, Rose released a campaign hitting out at de Blasio.

“Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City,” Rose said. “That’s it, that’s the whole ad,” he stated.

He may be what New Yorkers turn to in their rage as they struggle to survive the pandemic.

“It’s really crazy what’s going on. The city has no solutions. We have a do-nothing mayor,” fumed Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces realty.

“I’m watching AOC selling ‘tax the rich T-shirts’ for $58 while businesses are leaving New York. That’s AOC’s solution. Who is going to pay $58 for a T-shirt when you’re out of a job?” Benaim angrily said.

An alternative project called “Your LIC” that included residential-commercial towers at the site was also recently shot down amid not-in-my-backyard opposition and lack of support from City Hall. The plan claimed it would create 26,000 jobs, open space, and cultural amenities.

The Your LIC consortium included manufacturer Plaxall, the major property owner on the waterfront site along with the City of New York.

It was nixed as well.

“Their plans weren’t going to offer enough benefits to the community, and we’re not going to let private developers ignore their obligations to New Yorkers,” said Mitchell Schwartz, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Gianna Cerbone, the owner of Manducatis Rustica restaurant, whose family has deep roots in LIC, said “delusional” Democratic Socialists and anti-gentrifiers have hijacked Western Queens.

“I’m angry at the stupidity. Everybody fears AOC, who has no idea what she’s doing. Opposing Amazon benefitted other communities. Imagine if AOC did something positive with her big mouth,” Cerbone said.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, who is the pastor of the Center of Hope International Church near the Queensbridge Houses, said the Amazon mess followed by the pandemic is a double whammy to LIC’s poorest residents.

“It’s like we’re living in the 1970s. Things are worse for poor people now,” Rev. Taylor said.

“The Amazon project provided a ray of hope to a lot of people. We didn’t want a handout. The largest public housing project in the country wanted the opportunity to do business with the largest retailer in the country,” he said.

The biggest complaints about the Amazon project among critics were that it was hatched in secret with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio and that it offered $3 billion in tax breaks and other subsidies to the wealthiest company on the planet while claiming the campus would have priced people out of the neighborhood.

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