Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor/Kevin P. Coughlin
According to Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the committee will feature subcommittees focused on the project plan, neighborhood infrastructure, and workforce development.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Following several weeks’ of blistering attacks from Western Queens elected officials, union reps, and civic leaders regarding the insulated handling of the Amazon deal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday the formation of a Community Advisory Committee to share information and solicit ongoing community input about the e-commerce giant’s planned headquarters project in Long Island City.
According to Cuomo and de Blasio, the 45 members of the CAC—community and citywide stakeholders recommended by local elected officials—will work through three subcommittees to develop plans for the headquarters and onsite public amenities; investments in neighborhood infrastructure to benefit the surrounding communities; and training and hiring programs to ensure that homegrown talent fills the 25,000 to 40,000 new jobs at the headquarters.
The full CAC will meet quarterly starting in January, and its three subcommittees will meet approximately monthly during the course of the planning process.
Together with Empire State Development, Elizabeth Lusskin of the Long Island City Partnership and Denise Keehan-Smith of Community Board 2 will lead the Project Plan Subcommittee, which will advise on development of the General Project Plan and issues related to the construction of the new headquarters.
Together with the City Economic Development Corporation, Melva Miller of the Association for a Better New York and Rob Basch of the Hunters Point Park Conservancy will lead the Neighborhood Infrastructure Subcommittee, which will advise the City and State on infrastructure priorities in the broader LIC neighborhood and build upon the $180 million investment plan the City recently announced in the LIC Investment Strategy.
And together with Amazon, Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound, Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College and Jean Woods-Powell of Information Technology High School will lead the Workforce Development Subcommittee, which will devise an education-to-career workforce strategy to ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds have the skills and training to access the 25,000 to 40,000 jobs Amazon is bringing to the city. The company, State and City are committing $15 million ($5 million each) to create new workforce development programs focused on technology training and recruitment specific to NYC and targeted toward underrepresented segments of the workforce. Programs supported by this initiative may include community-based accelerated technology training programs, internships, and work-based learning opportunities for high school students.
The project is subject to the State’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises laws and utilization goals. New York has set the nation’s highest goal—30 percent—for utilization of M/WBEs, Cuomo noted.
The CAC will be led by a Steering Committee comprising the co-chairs of each subcommittee and will be staffed jointly by ESD and NYCEDC. All elected officials representing LIC have been invited to join as ex-officio members. Recognizing the citywide workforce opportunities associated with this project, all five borough presidents will serve on the workforce development subcommittee in an ex-officio role, according to the governor and mayor.
Last month, Amazon, de Blasio, and Cuomo announced that Amazon had chosen The World’s Borough for its next base of operations. To bring HQ2 to LIC, the State offered Amazon a package of incentives totaling $1.705 billion. The mammoth pact seems to have generated as much opposition as it has excitement.