If critics of Arlington’s proposed economic-incentive deal with Amazon want more outreach from the county government in soliciting community opinion and feedback, they need to put some concrete proposals on the table, one top leader says.
But they’d better hurry, since ratification of the deal is set for next month.
Critics of the proposal to provide local incentives to Amazon attended the Feb. 23 County Board meeting to press their case for more community engagement.
Hunter Tammaro, who opposes Amazon’s plan to move up to 25,000 workers to Crystal City, said the county government is not doing enough to get the word out to immigrant and low-income residents in the county.
“There’s been no outreach to them,” Tammaro said. “Most of them have no idea Amazon is coming here.”
County Board members said if that is the case, it isn’t because they and the county government are not trying to get the word out and receive feedback.
“I’ll meet with anybody,” board vice chairman Libby Garvey said. “We are as available as we can possibly be. We are out there as much as we can.”
If so, the outreach hasn’t percolated down to hard-to-reach segments of the community, Tammaro said. “They are completely unaware of it,” he told County Board members.
County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said it was up to critics of the Amazon plan, if they think current outreach efforts are not enough, to propose ways to improve the process.
“Send us a proposal for what you think would be appropriate . . . if you have a specific idea of what you would like to see,” he said.
When Amazon picked Crystal City as the site for its expansion last November, County Board members announced a set of economic incentives, largely based on the additional revenue the firm’s arrival could generate. The package totals an estimated $23 million over 15 years.
Arlington’s efforts are in conjunction with, and decidedly smaller than, a similar economic-development package for Amazon proposed by the state government, which could total $750 million. That proposal sailed through the General Assembly and already has been signed by Gov. Northam.
While vocal, if seemingly not very widespread, opposition to Amazon’s plans for expansion into New York City caused the online giant to kill that proposal, Virginia has been decidedly more welcoming.
Even the all-Democratic Arlington board, whose members dislike nothing more than being politically outflanked from their left, appeared unmoved by the criticism of progressive activists.
Amazon’s arrival will be “a big win for us and the region,” said board member Erik Gutshall, who plans to vote in favor of the incentive plan when it comes to the board on March 16.