The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has provided its formal stamp of approval, supporting the planned Arlington County government incentive package for Amazon.
The package “will have positive benefits for the Arlington community as a whole,” the business organization said as part of its 2019 public-policy positions.
Support for the local incentives was approved by the Chamber after it already had voiced approval of the package proposed by the state government to lure the online retailer to sites in Arlington and Alexandria.
Arlington’s proposed direct financial incentive to Amazon, as sketched out the day of the announcement nearly two months ago, includes a 15-year payout of $23 million.
In addition to direct financial incentives, the county government also is proposing to use a portion of new incremental revenue generated by Amazon’s arrival within the existing tax-increment-financing (TIF) area to make “strategic infrastructure investments” in and around the area Amazon will occupy.
The estimated new TIF revenue is projected to be $28 million over a 10-year period, and will “ensure that Arlington maintains its competitive edge into the future,” the Chamber said in its policy statement.
The Chamber also supports a proposal to give Amazon a portion of the tax revenue from increased hotel stays in the corridor after its arrival.
Amazon in early November announced that it would split its planned “HQ2” between Arlington/Alexandria and the New York City area. At the same time, Arlington officials laid out their planned incentive package – while acknowledging that the proposal needed to be formally voted on by the County Board in early 2019.
History suggests such a vote will be pro-forma: County Board members have never in the past turned down an economic-development deal following a public hearing.
In fact, until recent years the county government sniffed at the mere thought of providing economic incentives for companies to relocate to, or stay in, Arlington. But a changing economic environment, and ballooning office-vacancy rates in the county, caused local officials to change their tune.
County leaders expect the arrival of Amazon (and related firms) will help cut the county’s vacancy rate in half in specific corridors.
A list of upcoming meetings on the Amzon proposal, and links to the county government’s proposed incentive package, can be found at www.arlingtonva.us/amazon/.