State lawmakers are now setting the wheels in motion to approve at least $550 million in grant money to Amazon, a process that should help seal the deal to bring the tech giant to Arlington.
Legislators in both chambers of the General Assembly have now introduced bills to make good on the deal that Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration helped strike with Jeff Bezos’ firm, promising hundreds of millions in incentive cash if Amazon comes through on its promise to bring 25,000 jobs to Pentagon City and Crystal City between now and 2030.
Arlington is set to chip in some cash of its own to make the deal work (about $23 million in grant money over 15 years, drawn from a projected increase in revenue from the county’s tax on hotel stays) and new investments in transportation and education programs beef up the state’s offer to Amazon by hundreds of millions more.
But the new legislation lays out the clearest look yet at what Northam’s team promised the tech company — and makes it clear that Amazon could earn another $200 million if it adds another 12,850 jobs at the new headquarters over the years, bringing its haul to $750 million in total.
The identical bills are backed by primarily by state Sen. Frank Ruff (R-15th District) and Del. S. Chris Jones (R-76th District), the powerful head of the House of Delegates’ appropriations committee.
Each would establish a “Major Headquarters Workforce Grant Fund” to lay out the payments, attaching a $22,000 price tag to each new job Amazon brings to the area over the next 15 years. To qualify for the grant, the jobs will need to come with an average wage of $150,000 per year starting in 2019, increasing by 1.5 percent each year after that.
The legislation lays out a schedule for how the state pays out the grant money, with Amazon set to earn $200 million by 2024, then $300 million by 2025. The figure jumps by $50 million increments before topping out at $550 million in 2030.
Then, if the company can deliver on the additional 12,850 jobs beyond the original 25,000 it promised, it will collect another $50 million each year through 2034.
The bill also requires Amazon to provide evidence to state officials each year that it’s meeting the requirements to earn the grant payments.
The legislation generally seems like a sure bet to pass, considering that several influential state lawmakers have already had a chance to help shape the incentive package.
A panel known as the Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission signed off on the bulk of the details in tandem with Northam’s staff, and that group included some of the most senior members of both parties in the House and the Senate. As Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District) told ARLnow, the incentive package “may not face much opposition, but it’s still meaningful.”
Nevertheless, some of Amazon’s fiercest opponents in Arlington are urging state lawmakers to reject the deal. A group of advocates dubbing themselves the “For Us Not Amazon” coalition, including organizers from Our Revolution Arlington, the Metro D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Latino rights group La ColectiVA, is calling for legislators to vote down the incentive package in its entirety, and organized a demonstration at the county’s Amazon-focused listening session Saturday (Jan. 12) to underscore that point.
“There should be no incentives for Amazon, and city and state grants and funding should go to protect communities at risk,” the group wrote in a statement. “Public officials need to hear our communities’ concerns about Amazon’s current and future impact on residents.”
But a vote on the incentive bills will be only one piece of the puzzle in finalizing the Amazon agreement, lawmakers say. The state promised transportation improvements all around the company’s proposed campus, and a huge influx of cash into tech-focused higher education programs, and that money will likely be included in adjustments to the biennial state budget.
That means cash for everything from Metro improvements in Crystal City to money for an expansion of George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus will all be wrapped up in one massive budget bill.
Of course, Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) points out that any lawmakers hoping for a seperate vote on the Amazon-specific portions of the budget could move to “sever” those sections from the rest of the spending plan. Hope says he generally supports the deal, but he fully expects there to be some discussions over the course of the remainder of the General Assembly’s 46-day session about the issue.
“I believe it has the votes to pass, but there could be some debate on that on the floor,” Hope said. “I suspect we will see that, in fact.”
Arlington officials are set to sign off on their portion of the Amazon deal no sooner than the County Board’s Feb. 23 meeting.
The legislature is set to adjourn that same day, meaning that any Amazon bill will likely have cleared the General Assembly well in advance of that gathering — however, budget debates have been known to linger well past the proposed end of each year’s legislative session.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village