Amazon decision prompts another pitch from Oneida County

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Amazon’s decision to not pursue a new corporate center in the New York City borough of Queens prompted reaction from Mohawk Valley state lawmakers and a renewed pitch to the company to set up in the Rome area.

State Sen. Joe Griffo, R-47 of Rome and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente issued a joint statement and letter addressed to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to consider the Utica-Rome region. They cited the region’s central location, home values, “wonderful schools and a hard-working and highly skilled workforce,” along with Griffiss International Airport, the county-owned former Air Force base with one of the longest runways in the Northeast and which is one of seven federally designated locations for drone development and testing.

“While HQ2 is not going forward in Queens, we can assure you an investment by Amazon in the Utica-Rome area of Upstate New York would be greeted with open arms,” Griffo and Picente wrote in the letter. “In short, this region and its residents embody the spirit and ingenuity that Amazon is looking for when it comes to potential sites to build a facility.” 

They added, “Whether it’s opening a new satellite corporate facility, expanding drone research and testing or establishing a fulfillment center or distribution hub we are ready and willing to be a partner with Amazon in any endeavor you choose to pursue. 

“Our area would benefit greatly from the jobs and economic infusion that a company such as yours would bring if it chose to establish a presence here and would serve as a great ambassador for Amazon.”

This isn’t the first attempt to get Amazon’s attention. The airport was cited in a pitch to Amazon developed by CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity on behalf of Rome, Utica, Syracuse and Cayuga and Cortland counties as the company sought cities and metro areas to compete for its new corporate second headquarters.

Then in December, shortly after Amazon announced it would build satellite headquarters in Queens and northern Virginia, Picente wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeking help luring spin-off business to Griffiss and Oneida County.

Other state lawmakers representing parts of the region weighed-in on Thursday’s announcement, mostly to criticize how the Cuomo administration pursues economic development.

“It’s a sad day when we can’t attract a major player in the world economic market to New York,” first-term Assemblyman John Salka, R-121 of Brookfield. “The governor and his circle couldn’t keep Amazon’s interest even with a $3 billion sweetheart deal; it just shows how fostering high taxes and an anti-business mindset can hurt the state as a whole. Cuomo’s failure to court Jeff Bezos with special deals and incentives truly highlights how he’s ruined the business reputation of New York.”

Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-101 of New Hartford issued a statement saying the decision shows state government should focus on helping existing businesses grow, particularly upstate.

“Though I am opposed to corporate welfare – specifically providing massive tax incentives to the wealthiest company in the world – I know constituents throughout my district would gladly welcome 25,000 Amazon jobs and so do I,” Miller said. 

“It is unfortunate, however, that the state continues to focus its economic development strategy on these types of hand-outs and ‘economic hunting’ tactics rather than on ‘economic gardening’ efforts that support and promote the existing businesses in our state. Family farms and other small businesses across upstate New York are the true backbone of our economy and they need the help, not massive corporations. As we continue to negotiate a state budget and job-creating programs, I hope Albany regains its focus on the upstate economy.”

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