“The deal was largely focused on what can the county board do for Amazon, and instead of what the county board can do for the people,” said Danny Cendejas, an organizer with La ColectiVA.
Tuesday, the Arlington County Board released its proposed incentive agreement with Amazon.
Activists, like Cendejas, were hoping they would see a commitment to living wages for construction workers, affordable housing, and Amazon end its work with ICE.
But the agreement, really only laid out how the supply chain giant will receive approximately $23 million in grants– in exchange for filling office space. Governor Ralph Northam has already signed off on $750 million in state incentives.
“[The county is] basically just giving away public funds to the corporation owned by the wealthiest man in the world just simply for moving in,” Cendajas said.
Chair of the Arlington County Board, Christian Dorsey, says these types of agreements always focus on office space and incentives.
“Well the performance agreement was always going to be about what incentives would be provided to Amazon for the occupying of square footage of office space. The other conversations that we’ve had with Amazon about other issues … I thought that we were very clear about that we’re hoping to work those other discussions on separate tracks but were never going to be part of the agreement for what incentives were going to be returned for certain amounts of office space.”
Cendejas, said the proposed incentive agreement was not surprising, but extremely “disappointing.”
“The way that the county board refuses to hear community needs and concerns in negotiations that again were done behind closed doors and instead is seeking to sustain what Amazon wants.”
Dorsey continued to stress that the county expects positive community contributions from Amazon.
“Those come on separate channels and not the performance agreement for the receipt of an economic incentive that is, and has always been tied to how much square footage of office space you occupy,” he said.
When asked about said channels, Dorsey said the Board is facilitating Amazon’s involvement with the labor community, but claims they cannot go any further, legally. He says once they start constructing buildings, they Will be required to contribute to the county’s affordable housing fund.
The county board will vote on the deal on March 16
You can read the proposal here.