NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens business owner has made it his mission to rescue the Amazon deal, and he’s far from alone.
He’s already met with a company executive, and says he has big plans he hopes will re-attract the tech giant.
Josh Bowen’s opinions are much like the food at his Long Island City barbecue joint — full of flavor. But he is bitter about Amazon bailing out on the deal to move into his neighborhood.
“Is this stupidity and madness actually even possible?” Bowen said. “This is a tragedy for Long Island City.”
CBS2 first met Bowen on Valentine’s Day, when Amazon announced it wouldn’t build its HQ2 campus down the street from his restaurant, John Brown Smokehouse. The online retailer blamed some local and state elected officials for their lack of support. Bowen blasted those leaders who celebrated the decision.
Bowen said he couldn’t stomach the disappointment, so on a whim he flew to Seattle on a mission to get Amazon to change its mind. He phoned John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president for global real estate and facilities, who was sitting next to Gov. Andrew Cuomo when they first announce the deal.
On Monday, Schoettler agreed to meet with Bowen.
“It was a good meeting,” Bowen said. “‘Never say never’ was the words that were spoken to me. That’s not a confirmation, but for a New Yorker that means we got work to do.”
Amazon confirmed the face-to-face meeting between Bowen and Schoettler, but wouldn’t say what transpired or what could happen moving forward.
Sources tell CBS2 Cuomo has been speaking with multiple high-level executives about re-visiting the deal. On Thursday, the governor would only say he’s spoken to Amazon execs by phone.
“Up until now, we haven’t seen a change in their position,” the Cuomo said.
The Partnership for New York City, which represents business, community, union and political leaders, published an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that will appear in the New York Times. It urges the tech giant to reconsider its decision to abandon Long Island City.
Their efforts are not without detractors. Many were unhappy with the tax incentives offered to the multi-million dollar corporation. On Thursday, a group called Make The Road New York issued a statement about the governor’s continue pursuit.
“Andrew Cuomo needs to stop groveling at the feet of corporations and billionaires and start listening to our communities who overwhelmingly reject this deal,” the group, which represents low income New Yorkers, said.
Bowen said he knows an Amazon comeback is a tall order, but he thinks it’s one worth waiting for. He plans to rally Amazon advocates to woo the company back.
“If anyone wants to come on down to Gordon Triangle and protest, come on down,” he said. “I just bought a bull horn on Amazon.”