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Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo Announce Community Advisory Committee to Guide Amazon Headquarters Project

December 11, 2018

Subcommittees will focus on project plan, neighborhood infrastructure and workforce development

NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to share information and solicit ongoing community input about Amazon’s planned headquarters project in Long Island City, Queens. Members of the CAC 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 CAC is comprised of community and citywide stakeholders recommended by local elected officials. Past CACs have significantly shaped development projects led by Empire State Development (ESD) helping ensure that community priorities and needs are considered throughout the process.

“Amazon's new headquarters will bring more than 25,000 jobs benefitting all New Yorkers from NYCHA residents to CUNY students,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The Community Advisory Committee will bring together stakeholders of all backgrounds to help shape this important plan. Robust community engagement is critical to ensuring that the investments and resources generated from this project serve the needs of everyone in Long Island City and beyond.”

“Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our economy and community input will be a critical part of the development process,” Governor Cuomo said. “We look forward to working with local elected officials, community organizations and residents to ensure their voices are heard as we work to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, generate billions in revenue that will be reinvested in the region, strengthen our infrastructure, and expand opportunity for New Yorkers.”

“Amazon chose New York City because of its talent pool and we are dedicated to growing and developing that talent. Working with the CAC, we will build on Amazon’s existing job training and workforce development programs — ensuring they meet the needs of Long Island City residents and create pathways to the 25,000 new jobs we are bringing to the neighborhood. This joint effort will help ensure that our new neighbors benefit not only from corporate and technology jobs, but also the thousands more indirect jobs in construction, building services, hospitality and other service industry fields,” said Ardine Williams, Vice President People Operations, HR Worldwide Operations, Amazon.

The CAC’s 45 community members were appointed in consultation with local elected officials and stakeholders. 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 ESD, Elizabeth Lusskin of the Long Island City Partnership and Denise Keehan-Smith of Queens 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 NYCEDC, 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 Long Island City neighborhood and build upon the $180 million investment plan the City recently announced in the Long Island City Investment Strategy. 

Together with Amazon, Bishop Mitchell G. 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 develop 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 New York 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 New York City 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 enterprise laws and utilization goals. New York State has set the nation's highest goal - 30 percent - for utilization of MWBEs.

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 Long Island City 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.  

President and CEO of Empire State Development and Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development Howard Zemsky, “We are just beginning our environmental review and development process for the Amazon project, and we are fully committed to robust community engagement and transparency throughout. We look forward to engaging with members of the Long Island City and broader Queens community that know this neighborhood best, as well as with citywide partners, to ensure that this historic opportunity benefits all New Yorkers while integrating into the community as seamlessly as possible.”

New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett said, “The Community Advisory Committee will guarantee that City residents have a role in shaping Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City. Community-based planning is critical to guiding strategic investments in Long Island City. We look forward to working with elected officials, local residents, community organizations, and business leaders to use this opportunity to create a blueprint that will strengthen Western Queens for generations to come.”

"It is imperative for stakeholders to seize an active role in this process and directly shape how the community will benefit from this historic deal," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "The process should include infrastructure investments to enhance capacity, support for existing housing developments and, in a union town like New York, agreements with labor. The Community Advisory Committee is designed to ensure community insights and concerns are incorporated into the ultimate outcome."

"I am grateful to the activists who have agreed to serve on a diverse community advisory committee to provide important direction and feedback to guide this plan. It will be important to make sure that affordable housing, transportation improvements, and anti-displacement efforts become reality over the course of this effort.  This project can provide important benefits to infrastructure and workforce development that reflect our longtime desire for a sustainable, mixed use community,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “I am particularly grateful to Bishop Mitchell Taylor and LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow for agreeing to chair the workforce development subcommittee.  As chair of the NYS Assembly Education Committee and former chair of the Labor Committee, I know how important it will be to build out schools, training programs, small business assistance, support and resources for Queensbridge Houses and indeed all neighborhoods, students and families in Western Queens. This CAC has my pledge to listen, work, and fight for Long Island City."

“My goal is to work assiduously so that the CAC builds a robust workforce development process that creates the human infrastructure necessary to maintain a vital and equitable workforce for our community,” said Dr. Gail Mellow, President, LaGuardia Community College.

"The Community Advisory Committee will bring thoughtful insight and feedback from stakeholders into the Amazon development process, and I look forward to helping the Long Island City community and economy succeed and thrive alongside our partners in the nonprofit sector,” said Denise Keehan-Smith, Chair, Queens Community Board 2.

"This is a historic time for our city and an even more historic time for Northwestern Queens. The arrival of Amazon will revitalize neighborhood businesses and jumpstart young entrepreneurial minds in our communities,” said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, co-founder and CEO, Urban Upbound. “This is an opportunity to create real careers for the public housing residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, and Woodside. Co-chairing this subcommittee, we will lay the groundwork for a future where these residents are leading the Silicon Valley of the East Coast."

“The Long Island City Partnership is honored to be included on the Community Advisory Committee, as I personally am to be appointed a Co-Chair.  Long Island City is a highly diverse, mixed-use community and we look forward to working with the members of the CAC and the entire community to ensure that the voices of that mix – including commercial, tech, industrial, retail, cultural, small and large businesses, as well as residential and student – inform this project,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, President, Long Island City Partnership. “Only in that way can it fulfill its promise to strengthen the balance of those uses, while benefitting the larger community as well.  This is the largest economic development opportunity ever for NYS and NYC, and if done right, will have a lasting positive impact on both, as well as LIC, for generations to come.”

“I am excited to work with our community leaders to advocate for money to make essential upgrades to our infrastructure, including transportation,” said Rob Basch, President, Hunters Point South Parks Conservancy. “Additionally, with more people living and working in our community it is essential that we provide more access to the waterfront and add parks and green spaces. I love living in Long Island City and I want to do my part to make sure our community remains a welcoming and vibrant community for everyone.”

"I am grateful to be chosen for this opportunity to serve on the Workforce Development Subcommittee, and to advocate for children and youth in our communities.  It is vital that New Yorkers, of all backgrounds, be given exposure, strategic support, and resources from Amazon that will positively impact generations to come,” said Jean Woods-Powell, Principal, Information Technology High School. “As a native New Yorker and as an educator, I will use my platform to work creatively, collaboratively, and constructively with Amazon as they begin their transitional phase in working with our great city."

A full list of the CAC members is below:

Project Plan Co-Chairs:
Denise Keehan-Smith, Chair, Queens Community Board 2
Elizabeth Lusskin, President, the Long Island City Partnership

Neighborhood Infrastructure Co-Chairs:
Robert Basch, President, Hunters Point Park Conservancy  
Melva Miller, Executive Vice President, Association for a Better New York

Workforce Co-Chairs:
Gail Mellow, President, LaGuardia Community College      
Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, CEO and President, Urban Upbound
Jean Woods-Powell, Principal, Information Technology High School

CAC Members:
Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas
Antonios Benetatos, President-elect, Dutch Kills Civic Association
Kyle Bragg, Secretary-Treasurer, 32BJ SEIU
Paul Camilierri, LIC Resident
Gianna Cerbone, Owner, Manducatis Restaurant
Meghan Cirrito, Board Chair, Gantry Parents Association
Claudia Coger, President, Astoria Houses Tenant Association
Lisa Ann Deller, Land Use Chair, Queens Community Board 2
Paul Finnegan, Executive Director, New York Irish Center
Angie Kamath, University Dean for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, CUNY
Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Hour Children
Debra-Ellen Glickstein, Executive Director, NYC Kids RISE
Tom Grech, President and CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce
Kenny Greenberg, Neon Artist and CB2 Member
Chris Hanway, Executive Director,    Jacob A. Riis Settlement House
Jukay Hsu, Founder and CEO, Pursuit
Richard Khuzami, President, Old Astoria Neighborhood Association
Debby King, Former Director, 1199 Training Fund Director and LIC resident
Sheila Lewandowski, Executive Director, The Chocolate Factory Theater  
Reverend Corwin Mason, Community Church of Astoria
Annie Cotton Morris, President, Woodside Houses Tenant Association
Joey Ortiz, Executive Director, NYC Employment and Training Coalition 
Tom Paino, Chair, Hunters Point Community Coalition
Santos Rodriguez, Director of Community Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, NYC Building Trades Council  
Julie Samuels, Executive Director, TechNYC  
Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of New York Building Congress 
Seema Shah, Director of Technology and Innovation Initiatives, LaGuardia Community College 
April Simpson, President, Queensbridge Houses Tenant Association 
Alvarez Symonette, Chief of Staff, Lady M Confections 
Marie Torniali, Chair, Queens Community Board 1  
Matthew Troy, Executive Director of Variety Boys & Girls Club, Queens
Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of Employment Services and Education, The Fortune Society
Carol Wilkins, President, Ravenswood Houses Tenant Association 
Tom Wright, President and CEO, Regional Plan Association 
Frank Wu, Transportation and Safety Committee Chair, Court Square Civic Association  
Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City 
Judith Zangwill, Executive Director, Sunnyside Community Services
A CUNY student representative

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