Amazon Isn't Coming to New York. Here's What That Could Mean for the City's Colleges
Photo Credit: Photo: Steve Jurvetson

Amazon Isn't Coming to New York. Here's What That Could Mean for the City's Colleges

After months of backlash from New York residents and struggles to close deals with city officials, Amazon is no longer moving half of its second headquarters to the city, according to Reuters.

The company had big plans to add 25,000 jobs to it’s proposed New York location, but now says it will instead spread those jobs to different locations across the US and Canada. Plans for it’s Northern Virginia expansion are still underway.

After nearly a year-long search for its second headquarters, Amazon announced in November that it was planting its feet in Crystal City, VA and Long Island City, NY. Real estate companies and officials in the cities geared up for Amazon’s arrival by purchasing property and attempting to make tax deals, but the education sector may have gotten left behind now that the New York expansion is off the table.

Universities near Long Island City and Crystal City leveraged students and recent graduates to create pipeline programs, initiatives, and expansion deals with Amazon.

Washington, D.C.- area and Virginia universities announced projects targeting Amazon’s arrival. Shortly after Amazon’s headquarters announcement, Virginia Tech revealed a plan for a new Innovation Campus in Alexandria, V.A. —  part of an agreement that played a crucial role in attracting the company to the area.

The 1 million-square-foot graduate campus will be located less than two miles from Amazon’s headquarters and is expected to have hundreds of new computer science graduate students. Virginia Tech is increasing enrollment at its Blacksburg campus by 2,000 over the next eight years. The Innovation Campus is set to cost $1 billion. So far, the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech have each committed $250 million in funding.

For New Yorkers, Amazon’s wanting to move to the city came as a huge inconvenience, but highlighted major improvements to the tech growth in the city. A 2017 report by the Office of the New York State Comptroller said that New York City’s tech sector has grown three times faster than any other private sector from 2010 to 2016, with employment increasing 57 percent.

New York City posted a 253-page proposal online–which was later removed from the website shortly after the New York Times downloaded it — that detailed all of the data the city submitted to Amazon. The document included  the city’s education trends, workforce demographics, and the finite details on the price of a Whole Foods avocado. In the report, Amazon requested information on universities’ tech partnerships, diversity efforts and the city’s plans to improve tech via its universities and training programs.

In its pitch to Amazon, New York City highlighted Columbia University and New York University’s (NYU) campus expansions to encourage tech exploration and research. The city also noted all of the accelerated tech training programs in the city which includes 22 coding bootcamps.

Columbia University recently opened a campus for teaching, pioneering research, and artistic expression. The university’s current $6.2M Artificial Intelligence Research Group partners with Amazon, Google and Microsoft to research machine learning, natural language processing and facial recognition technologies. The companies also partner with Columbia on its Supply Chain and Logistics Research Group, which focuses on developing scalable algorithms for inventory and transshipment planning.

Amazon agreed to build a new school in Queens as part of its deal with New York City. Plans for the school are over, but Amazon is continuing with its efforts to provide computer science education and cloud computing programs in Queens, according to a company spokesperson told AfroTech

New York City’s pitch to Amazon also included suggestions to the company on how to participate in new and existing tech talent programs that could have helped in diversifying the city’s tech workforce.

Update: This article has been updated to show Amazon is no longer set to build a school in Queens; however, the company is following through with computer science education and cloud computing programs announced last year.