Tech giant will build second HQ in Crystal City but protesters echo New Yorkers who forced company out
Protesters repeatedly shouted shame as a northern Virginia county board unanimously approved a $23m incentives package for Amazon to build a new headquarters there.
The Arlington county boards 5-0 vote on Saturday came after hours of heated public testimony, news outlets reported.
Supporters said Amazons plan to build a massive facility in Crystal City will lead to tens of thousands of good jobs and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Opponents said the tech giant neither needs nor deserves public subsidies. They also said lower-income residents would be driven out by rising rents.
In November, Amazon selected New York City and Crystal City as the winners of a secretive, year-long process in which more than 230 North American cities bid to become the home of the Seattle-based companys second headquarters.
Amazon last month abandoned its New York City plan amid pushback from politicians and activists who were angry about the tax breaks that had been offered as well as the companys anti-union stance.
This vote today is about racial justice, Danny Cendejas, a member of the La ColectiVA advocacy group, said, according to WRC-TV. We have been talking to folks in communities of color, immigrant communities. We have been hearing consistently the concerns about gentrification.
The Washington Post reported that in response to concerns about increased rents, traffic congestion and school overcrowding, board chair Christian Dorsey said: I am confident we can manage those impacts.
Amazon plans to create at least 25,000 jobs over 12 years in the Washington suburb. The state of Virginia has already approved a $750m incentives package for the company.
During the meeting, activists grew outraged after they were not allowed to ask questions to the Amazon officials who had given testimony.
Washington resident Chris Otten shouted that a vote should not be permitted and yelled profanities at a pro-Amazon attendee who he said cursed at him. That prompted police and security personnel to physically remove Otten, who screamed as he was carried out. He was charged with disorderly conduct.
Otten said he had recently broken his wrist and was in pain from being strong-armed out of the building. Calling from a hospital where he was undergoing precautionary X-rays, he said the county should be focused on using its funds to help the neediest.
Its sad when you hear the board say they dont have the resources to help people who are in need now, but then they give out millions and millions to a company that doesnt need that sort of help, Otten said. Its corporate welfare over social need.
Board vice chair Libby Garvey said she was excited.
Arlington has done a lot of changing in the 40 plus years I have been here and we are ready for this change, Garvey said. Weve planned for this growth, weve planned for these jobs, but we did not expect to get so much of this in one agreement.
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