A Message From Commissioner Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development

A Message From Commissioner Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development

Amazon’s decision to withdraw their headquarters from Long Island City is a major lost opportunity for New Yorkers and a loss for Empire State Development. Despite this, I think it’s important to highlight a couple of words that have been missing from the public dialogue in the months since this project was announced. Those words are simply, THANK YOU.

THANK YOU to our team at ESD who did exemplary work supporting every area of the state that submitted a proposal to Amazon. From helping cities evaluate their real estate options and research their relative strengths to presenting their proposal in the most positive way, ESD brought every resource to the table – and the team should be immensely proud of their efforts.

THANK YOU to the Amazon selection team who spent so much time with us. You took the time to understand the state of our state and city – our creditworthiness, our investments in infrastructure, our commitment to higher education (particularly the Excelsior Scholarship Program), the quality of our colleges and universities, and the core values of our state as a champion of civil rights and as a proponent of tolerance in an era of…well, the opposite –  virtues that will undoubtedly continue to serve New York well. New York City was not on anyone’s short list and Long Island City, Queens was not on anyone’s long list – so, thank you for the vote of confidence.

THANK YOU to the team at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, who did a fantastic job from beginning to end. One silver lining for us is the relationships and trust we’ve developed with EDC during this project, and we look forward to continuing that partnership.

My final THANK YOU is to Governor Cuomo, who has been in our corner fighting for this project from day one. His trust and confidence in ESD continues to be the honor of a lifetime.

On a personal note, I am of course profoundly disappointed in the outcome. I’ve always encouraged my colleagues to steer clear of hyperbolic language, but this is just tragic – while no lives were lost, many thousands of livelihoods were.

The only productive way forward is for ESD to be true to ourselves. Being in economic development means being in the business of providing people with opportunity – and we still have work to do. Now more than ever, we must promote the many remarkable assets that brought Amazon to New York in the first place.

Howard Zemsky
CEO, Commissioner, and President
Empire State Development

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