Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Arlington County Approves $23 Million in Incentives for Amazon

Amazon is set to receive $23 million in incentives after a unanimous vote by the Arlington County Board on March 16.

Amazon’s second headquarters will occupy over six million square feet of office space in Northern Virginia through 2035 in exchange for the approved local and state subsidies, according to The Washington Post.

The incentives package is a new model for economic development, according to Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.

“This performance agreement is really just the beginning of what I believe will be a long and productive partnership between Arlington and Amazon,” Dorsey said in a March 16 news release. “Our vote today reflects our strong belief that Amazon will bring significant benefits to our community, to neighboring Alexandria, the region and the state.”

CRYSTAL CITY | Amazon will establish a second headquarters in Crystal City in exchange for incentives after cancelling plans to split the second headquarters between Crystal City and New York last month.

Crystal City earned one of two winning bids in Amazon’s HQ2 contest in November 2018, with cities from across the nation competing to host the online merchant’s second corporate headquarters. Amazon cancelled its plans for the second headquarters, planned for New York, in February after local leaders opposed providing approximately $3 billion of tax incentives, according to POLITICO.

Supporters of the new headquarters say Amazon’s presence in the region will bring economic benefits, but opponents believe the influx of high-paying jobs and residents could drive up housing prices for current residents. Some residents were opposed to Virginia winning the bidding war, which included 238 cities, because Amazon has a large number of employees in Northern Virginia already, according to Business Insider. Additionally, incentives demanded by the company would come at a cost to taxpayers.

Amazon executives attended the vote and hearing March 16, but their testimony was interrupted by shouts from protestors, eventually forcing them to leave the room, according to The Washington Post.

Amazon’s expansion into Alexandria and Arlington will result in mass displacement of nearby low-income communities of color in February, according to a Feb. 11 report by the New Virginia Majority, a group that mobilizes minority communities to address economic, social and environmental issues. The company’s high salaries will cause housing prices in the area to increase, pushing out local residents, according to the report.

Local activists, including the group “For Us, Not Amazon,” organized to fight the move and have continued their opposition to the ruling. The group has called for the county board to hold a hearing with Amazon in attendance, but the board did not comment on such a meeting and went ahead with its vote, according to The Washington Post.

The focus should remain on area residents who would be negatively impacted by HQ2, according to Bethany Davis, an organizer of “For Us, Not Amazon.”

“We oppose HQ2 because its arrival will hasten displacement and gentrification already happening,” Davis wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The state and county have made no concrete plans with dedicated funding to prevent this.”

The board’s vote to approve the incentive package was disappointing but not surprising, according to Davis.

“The county board members acknowledged the legitimacy of our concerns and in several places noted where Amazon has failed to meet their own expectations,” Davis wrote. “Nevertheless, they chose to side with corporate class against the people.”

Amazon has engaged in outreach and promised to invest in the local community, according to the Washington Post. Amazon HQ2 is expected to bring roughly 25,000 workers with a $150,000 average annual salary to Crystal City and the surrounding area, according to PC Magazine.

The majority of  residents in Northern Virginia – 72 percent – supported Amazon HQ2, with businesses, universities and nonprofits especially favoring the deal, according to a December 2018 poll conducted by Christopher Newport University. Schools including Virginia Tech and George Mason University supported the move because Amazon could provide more opportunities for their STEM programs and students, according to The Washington Post.

The NVM report also criticized Amazon’s involvement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Amazon provided ICE with the technology to identify immigrants for deportation, profiting $600,000 a month off this technology, according to MIT Technology Review.

“For Us, Not Amazon” will continue to push for increased transparency from public officials and protection for low-income communities, according to Davis.

“Our concerns do not disappear after the vote,” Davis wrote. “We will continue meeting and organizing to hold the board accountable, demand transparency as the process continues and to work towards protecting the communities most at risk by this decision.”

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