In a New York Post article today, Yaron Steinbuch, reports on the status of Amazon’s bid to build a second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Though some 68% of Virginians approve of the deal there is some debated opposition. Some activists, it seems, are leaping before they look, in an area where the vast majority has more to hope for and gain, in this rising tide of democratic process, than from the dried-up drain-pipe of radicalistic thinking. If we are not careful those jobs could be sent elsewhere…even across borders…just at thought:
A Northern Virginia group dubbed “For Us, Not Amazon” is seeking to replicate the success of activists and elected officials in New York who thwarted the tech giant’s plans for a headquarters in Queens.
In their bid to prevent the e-retailer from building a second headquarters in Arlington, the activists cite the company’s anti-union stance, the negative impact of displacement and rising housing costs on low-income and minority communities, NBC News reported.
The coalition also is calling for transparency from Amazon and politicians over their plans, which were mostly negotiated behind closed doors.
As in New York, the group is concerned about the government incentives offered to Amazon, which would receive $573 million in incentives in return for creating 25,000 jobs with an average salary of more than $150,000.
Amazon has claimed that its overall tax payments over the next 20 years in Virginia will reach about $3.2 billion. It said that New York’s tax credits would have amounted to $48,000 per job, as opposed to Virginia’s cash grants of $22,000 per job.
“How can money be given to one of the wealthiest companies in the world when we have real social needs that should be prioritized,” said Danny Cendejas, an organizer at La ColectiVA, a group that advocates for Virginia’s Latino community.
“Virginia has so many kids learning out of trailers,” he said. “The state package offered to Amazon could have been used to improve the education system.”
Roshan Abraham from the community group Our Revolution Arlington said: “There has been no outreach to the low-income, working class, and black and brown communities of Arlington who will be most negatively impacted by Amazon’s arrival.”
“A lot of people are really concerned about rising housing costs, Amazon’s anti-union stance and workplace practices,” he added.
Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, which monitors government subsidies to corporations, said Amazon would have likely invested heavily in Arlington anyway because of its proximity to vital government partners.
Amazon’s “National Landing” development in the city is only a few miles from Washington.
“Among Amazon Web Services’ most lucrative clients are the Pentagon and the CIA. The site is literally a stone’s throw from the Pentagon and a short drive from Langley,” LeRoy said.
Despite the opposition, Northern Virginia’s public officials have been largely supportive of Amazon’s plans.
Hours after the company announced it would pull out of the Big Apple development, the head of the Arlington County Board celebrated Amazon’s decision to come to the region.
“It highlighted a particular community dynamic in a region that has its act together,” he told reporters.
According to a December poll, 68 percent of Virginians approve of the Amazon deal, while 30 percent disapprove, Fox News reported.
The company is “excited to bring our new Amazon headquarters to National Landing and help support the community,” spokeswoman Jill Shatzen Kerr told The Post in a statement.
“The 25,000 new jobs Amazon will help offset the more than 34,000 jobs Arlington has lost since 2003 due to BRAC, sequestration and federal agency closures, and will help diversify the local economy,” she said. “Our investment of $2.5 billion will generate more than $3.2 billion in tax revenue which can be used for public services.”
- Yaron Steinbuch