As some look to stifle Amazon in NYC, how has the retailer impacted Staten Island?

STATEN ISLAND, NY – As Amazon seeks 5,400 new employees for its New York area operations, including 700 for its three Staten Island locations, a move is underway to increase the giant online retailer’s presence in New York. to slow down.

However, local officials have touted Amazon for creating jobs – more than 5,000 – in the company’s three facilities in Staten Island’s West Shore Matrix Global Logistics Park.

Amazon – now Staten Island’s largest employer – opened a $ 100 million, 855,000 square foot Amazon fulfillment center in 2017. The online retailer also opened a 450,000-square-foot warehouse, known as a ‘Last Mile Facility’, which will help accelerate deliveries, particularly to Staten Islanders, in the summer of 2020. And Amazon opened its third facility in the fall of 2020, a 975,000 square meter sorting center in Matrix Global Logistics Park.

“Amazon is committed to being a good neighbor and community partner in the areas where our employees live and work,” said Amazon spokesperson Jenna Hilzenrath.

“Since our first fulfillment center in New York State was launched here … we have donated more than a million dollars to local organizations on Staten Island, where more than half of the site’s employees live. Our goal is not only to provide high pay and benefits, but also to leverage our scale and make investments that support the needs of the local community. We look forward to continuing to play a role in ensuring that all young adults and families on Staten Island have the resources they need for their best future, ”she added.

THE PROMISE

However, four Democratic mayoral candidates have signed a pledge – formulated by New York Communities for Change, Make the Road Action and Workers United LDFS Joint Board – to slow Amazon’s growing presence in New York City.

The four candidates – attorney Maya Wiley, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former nonprofit director Dianne Morales and Paperboy Prince – who signed the pledge said they want to make it harder for Amazon to open warehouses in New York City, a report said. in Politico.

The crackdown on Amazon comes at a time when the retailer announced that nine new delivery stations will open in New York City this year. It also comes two years after the online retail giant scrapped its plans to open a new headquarters in Queens, where the project met with opposition. Other candidates, including Andrew Yang, have criticized the loss of the proposed headquarters.

“Since 2018, we’ve seen an increase of more than 300% in Amazon’s distribution centers in NYC, from just three to at least 14 by the end of this year,” said Zachary Lerner, organizing director of New York Communities for Change.

“… These e-commerce distribution centers are not like other warehouses. There could be hundreds or even thousands of truck and car trips to and from these facilities every day, causing untold traffic, pollution and other negative outcomes to the community, including the death of pedestrians. The community should be able to be part of the process when one of these is planned, ”he added.

He said the pledge is intended to reshape the city’s land use and economic development processes so that distribution centers are no longer classified or zoned as warehouses that can be built “as-of-right,” and instead require community input before they can be built. to be built.

But given that Amazon is Staten Island’s largest employer, some local elected officials say they wouldn’t want to see that happen.

BENEFITS FOR STATES OF ISLAND

“If a modern Teddy Roosevelt wants to be a 21st-century trust-breaker and break the Googles and Amazons of the world, they can do it,” said Borough president James Oddo.

“In the meantime, if the choice is to move 5,000 jobs to New Jersey or Staten Island, I will do a hundred times out of a hundred what we have done and work tirelessly to ensure that those who join the Matrix Global Logistics- come center, ”he added.

Oddo was instrumental in the development of Matrix Global Logistics Park.

“Borough Hall didn’t create these jobs, but we certainly defeated the bureaucracy that got in their way, and we’re proud of that. It never ceases to amaze me that the loudest voices trying to stifle the private sector always seem to come from those who most often advocate funding for cradle-to-grave programs. Where do they think the money comes from? In addition to the jobs already created, we continue to expand our relationship with Amazon and work with them in various efforts to help the Staten Island community, ”added Oddo.

‘NO TRAFFIC EFFECT’

Initially, when it was announced that Amazon would open its first operation here, there were community concerns about the company’s trucks adding traffic to the already busy streets of Staten Island. But Oddo said there have been no complaints about traffic as a result of the council’s Amazon operations.

“The lack of negative impact on traffic is largely due to the work we have done with Joe Taylor [CEO] of Matrix and the folks at Amazon – ahead of the facility’s opening – to adjust the services and the arrival and departure of the big trucks to avoid Staten Island’s rush hours as much as possible, ”said Oddo.

“Joe Taylor has been a great partner and a man of his word, understanding our concerns and fulfilling his commitments from day one. He understood our formula: job creation had to significantly outweigh the impact on infrastructure. Together we have done too much work and kept our pledge not to tax Staten Island drivers any further, ”he added.

Oddo also noted that creating a two-way street on Gulf Avenue – the street leading to the facility that, before the project was built, was one-way – kept traffic in the area ‘flowing’ efficiently.

Taylor said many of Global Matrix Logistic Park’s positives have to do with its location.

“The Borough President has been a strong supporter of this type of development in this location. … We are right next to the Goethals bridge [routes] 440 and 278. Both workers and goods get to and from their destination very efficiently with only a nominal impact on local roads, ”said Taylor. “In our development, three of the four existing buildings are Amazon. We have been able to limit traffic by widening the road and traffic lights to make the flow to and from the motorways run more smoothly. “

He noted that the MTA also has a “very powerful” bus service, with a bus stop on site.

“We already agreed with the MTA before we opened our first building,” said Taylor. “And it is used very extensively by employees.”

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS

Amazon also noted that it has made many contributions to the community, including large donations of equipment, such as laptops, and money to Staten Island schools, as well as monetary donations to community charities and nonprofits.

In 2020 alone, Amazon said these donation efforts include: $ 100,000 to provide more than 3,000 food care packages to frontline transportation workers in the MTA; $ 100,000 to the Public Schools Fund to support the purchase of supplies for families in need; a donation of $ 5,000 to the Staten Island University Health Foundation in support of the coronavirus [COVID-19] assistance; donations of thousands of surgical masks, gowns and respirators to hospitals in New York; thousands of pounds of food to local food banks; $ 25,000 for Staten Island University Hospital for its new Children’s Cancer Center, and $ 25,000 for the Dr. Atlas Foundation, which funds a six-week STEM education program for 500 Staten Island students.

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