On the same day that Amazon’s plan to move 25,000 workers into a distressed area of New York City was imploding, the Virginia General Assembly gave the online giant another in a series of welcome-to-the-commonwealth valentines.
Members of the state Senate voted 35-5 on Feb. 14 in support of legislation providing the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives for Amazon to locate “HQ2” operations in Crystal City.
The measure, patroned by Del. S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), previously had cleared the House of Delegates on a similarly lopsided vote. A companion measure, patroned by Sen. Frank Ruff Jr. (R-Clarksville), already has the signature of the governor.
The measures authorize up to $750 million in incentives to the online giant over the next decade, if the company meets employment targets spelled out in an agreement with the state government.
While some legislators on the left and right were critical of the plan, it won wide support in Richmond. The measure “makes sense for Virginians,” said state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Bristol), when the Ruff bill was debated in the Senate.
Separate legislation moving through the legislative process takes up another key part of the commonwealth’s efforts to lure Amazon: Higher-education upgrades in Northern Virginia, including a new campus for Virginia Tech in Alexandria and new offerings from George Mason University.
The Arlington County government also has promised a package of economic enticements for Amazon, to be taken up by the County Board in March.
On Feb. 14, Amazon announced it was rescinding its plan to locate the other half of its HQ2 facilities in the Queens borough of New York City. The firm cited noisy, if not necessarily widespread, opposition to the plan, and the unwillingness of some New York elected leaders to adhere to the framework of the deal.
In the wake of that collapse, both Arlington government officials and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce affirmed their support for the Crystal City proposal.