The following was published in the October 20th, 2017 edition of Long Island Business News.
On paper, the inherent strengths of Long Island should make our region the number one contender in the national contest to woo Amazon, who has recently detailed what exactly they are looking for in a second home.
In reality, the challenges both Nassau and Suffolk Counties face may continue to keep companies like the tech giant away.
While the choice for Long Island’s contention was correct, the efforts of the LIA likely will not work in attracting Amazon here– especially given how lackluster two of the three choices presented for the company’s consideration are.
The stakes in luring Amazon are high – the company is promising as many as 50,000 full-time jobs with salaries averaging over $100,000 over the next 10 to 15 years, as well as a $5 billion in capital expenditures. In return, the company is asking for a location within a metropolitan area with more than one million people, a “stable and business-friendly” environment, and communities that “think big and creatively.”
Except for the population figures, none of these exactly define Nassau or Suffolk Counties. For now, our region isn’t equipped to handle Amazon’s needs.
The ambition of our local elected officials and policymakers shouldn’t cloud their objective judgement. Deep down, they too know our region’s shortcomings as well as the rest of us. The question is, why did the group pitch to the Empire State Development Corporation Heartland Town Square in the Town of Islip, Belmont Park in Elmont, and Calabro Airport in the Town of Brookhaven as being representative of Long Island’s best offerings?
Of the three areas presented, the only workable option was Brookhaven’s 500 acre site, which is essentially vacant, has decent access, and ready for the company to build as they wish. Still, none are ideal for the company. All in all, the entire RFP process Amazon has initiated has upended the typical planning process.
The competition to woo Amazon is rightly fierce, and it’s easy to agree with the LIA that throwing Long Island in the national mix was the right move.
Especially since Westchester, Long Island’s competition north of the Bronx city-line, had their own splashy press conference announcing their bid for the tech company complete with a drone delivering their county executive’s remarks in an Amazon box. Like Long Island, they too boast close proximity to NYC, and are also stymied by high housing costs and antiquated transportation infrastructure.
Amazon’s request could serve as a roadmap for Long Island’s policymakers to use in their efforts to attract the next big company. However, caution must be taken – Developmental policies should not be set by businesses seeking a new HQ, but rather a wholesale understanding of regional needs and environmental limitations of the community.
If it isn’t – the growth will come, but we’ll be simply unable to accommodate it in the long run.
Richard Murdocco regularly writes and speaks on Long Island’s real estate development issues. He is the founder and publisher of The Foggiest Idea, an award-winning public resource for land use in the New York metro region. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea. You can email Murdocco at Rich@TheFoggiestIdea.org.