Nashville leaders react to Amazon scrapping New York City headquarters

Posted at 10:24 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 23:24:22-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Thursday, people across the mid-state wondered what Amazon's decision to scrap plans for a New York City headquarters would mean for the companies plans to expand into Nashville.

In November 2018, Amazon announced it would split its East Coast HQ between New York and Northern Virginia, while also creating an Operations Center of Excellence in Downtown Nashville. The plans would bring 5,000 jobs to the Nashville area. But on Thursday, Amazon said it was no longer expanding into New York, citing opposition from local and state leaders there.

"I was like 'woah,'" Dawn Cornelius, who works for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said. To her, and most people across the area, the company's decision came as a surprise.

But she and other city leaders said the move from Amazon won't impact the company's plans in Nashville.

"We don't expect it to have any specific impact," Cornelius said.

Nashville Mayor David Briley released a statement saying, “today’s news in no way affects Nashville’s partnership with Amazon which will bring its Operations Center of Excellence to our city and create 5,000 jobs.”

On whether ending plans in New York could mean more Amazon jobs coming to Nashville, Cornelius said she didn't know, but praised the impact the Operations Center of Excellence would have on the mid-state.

Not everybody was so excited about Amazon's expansion into Tennessee.

"So many people have so many concerns," Anne Barnett said. Barnett is co-chair of a group called Stand Up Nashville, that has raised concerns about Amazon's plans and what they could mean for Nashville. The group has previously cited the more than $100 million in tax incentives the city and state offered the company.

"We do have a housing crisis, we have a transportation problem, we have a cost burden problem here in Nashville," Odessa Kelly, another co-chair of Stand Up Nashville said. "How will it be any different when they come here to Nashville."

The group said they were inspired by efforts to take on Amazon in New York City.

"It's not often that communities can come together and stand strong and change the course of a giant corporations plans," Barnett said.

But members also said they worried about what the withdrawal from NYC could mean for the music city.

"We should be raising the alarm here in Nashville. If its a problem in New's going to be an even bigger problem in Nashville," Kelly said.

In their statement, Amazon said it will not reopen a search for another headquarter city.