Arlington County is planning to partner with Nestlé and the Arlington Community Foundation to create a child care scholarship program.
The Shared Prosperity Child Care Scholarship Program is paid for by a $200,000 donation from Nestlé, the multinational food and drink company that recently expanded its U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn. Nestlé’s baby food subsidiary Gerber is also located in Rosslyn.
The aim of the scholarship would be to help low-income families in Arlington get access to child care. A staff report laid out the qualifications for families:
- Participating households’ gross income must be at or below 30% of the Area Median Income at the time of application to the program.
- Participating households must be ineligible for child care assistance through the Virginia Department of Social Services Child Care Subsidy Program.
- All parents or guardians present in participating households must be involved in a work activity, attending school or training, or actively searching for employment.
- Participating households must be willing and able to contribute 5% of their gross income toward the cost of care.
Acceptance of the funding is tricky because technically the County Board cannot direct money to individuals.
“The County Board has limited authority to grant monies directly to private individuals,” the staff report noted. “However, the Board is permitted under Section 63.2-314 of the Code of Virginia to grant monies to the local board of social services, and the local board of social services is authorized to make grants to aid needy persons within Arlington”
The staff report estimated that the scholarship will be able to serve up to seven children for a maximum of two years.
“This will enable parents or guardians in participating households to search for employment, attend school or training, or participate in a work activity, and it will ensure that their children are afforded consistent access to high-quality early childhood programs.”
A new donation from Nestlé will help some low-income households in Arlington afford child care.
The food and beverage company, which recently announced an expansion of its U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, is donating $200,000 to the Arlington Community Foundation’s child care scholarship program.
The foundation is hoping to raise $2.7 million to provide financial assistance for 200 kids over the next 5 years.
“Arlington has the highest child care costs in the region,” the foundation noted in a press release, below. “A family of four with one infant and one four-year old can spend more than $42,000 per year on child care. Yet, nearly 2,600 Arlington children under age 6 live in families whose household income is $36,000 or below.”
The average annual scholarship per child will be $13,700, ACF said.
Arlington County has launched its own initiative to support more child care options locally, including by making key zoning and regulatory changes. County Board member Katie Cristol wrote last month that there’s a shortage of childcare options in Arlington, driving up costs.
“Supply shortages were worse than we thought: Known capacity is sufficient to serve only 54% of Arlington’s children under five, despite data indicating that most Arlington children live in families where all parents work,” Cristol wrote.
More on the donation, from the Arlington Community Foundation, is below after the jump.
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Nestlé is expanding its Rosslyn headquarters.
Monday Properties, which owns the company’s headquarters at 1812 N. Moore in Rosslyn, announced on this week that the company will be expanding from its presence from 252,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet.
The expansion means Nestlé will occupy 18 floors of the 35-story building. The Washington Business Journal reports that the company “plans to use the extra room for conference facilities, meetings and event space for its team.”
The company relocated its U.S. headquarters to Arlington in 2017 — a move that netted the company several million dollars in grant funding, as well as nearby infrastructure improvements, from Arlington County.
“Our Rosslyn community continues to bring in some of the country’s finest companies, and we are pleased to play a significant part in this incredible momentum,” Austin Freeman, senior vice president of asset management for Monday Properties, said in a press release.
“We’re looking forward to continuing to build our relationship with Nestlé and its employees, as well as attract exceptional companies to our community that will benefit not only from a high-quality office environment, but from Rosslyn’s social and lifestyle transformation as a true destination hub for world-class businesses,” Freeman said.
Monday Properties noted that its other marquee corporate tenants in Rosslyn include Gerber (which is owned by Nestlé), Yext, Deloitte, Gartner, Accenture, Sands Capital, Raytheon and Grant Thornton.
The Arlington County Board is poised to approve $1.7 million in state and local funds to incentivize Gerber to move its headquarters to the county.
The Board is scheduled to vote tonight (Tuesday) on whether or not to give $862,500 in state funds to baby food maker Gerber Products Company. Another $862,500 will be allocated for infrastructure improvements around the Rosslyn area, where the company’s headquarters will be moving.
The money is part of a bid enticing Gerber to make good on its promise to relocate its headquarters and 150 jobs to Rosslyn. Gerber parent company Nestle has already moved in to its new Rosslyn headquarters.
A staff report to the Board says $862,500 will come from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF). It will be sent to Gerber via Arlington’s Industrial Development Authority “upon Gerber’s submission of a Certificate of Occupancy and with evidence that Gerber’s Chief Executive Officer has moved his or her office and operations to the facility.”
The incentives are intended to help Gerber build out its headquarters. More from the staff report:
The agreements require signatures by the County Manager on behalf of the Arlington County Board, by the Chair of the IDA, by the President and CEO of VEDP and by a representative of Gerber. The agreements contain the following requirements, among others:
- Gerber must make, or have made on its behalf, a capital investment of $5 million in the building at 1812 North Moore Street;
- Gerber must create and maintain 150 New Jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia at an average annual compensation of $127,719; and
- Gerber must make its best efforts to ensure that at least 30% of the New Jobs are offered to residents of Virginia.
If the Board approves the plan, it will allocate $862,500 in funding to a handful of infrastructure projects already in motion:
- Move three bus stops blocking the front of Gerber and Nestle’s headquarters at 1812 N. Moore Street (a project staff said is already complete).
- Finish the on-street bike lanes and wide sidewalks planned for the Lynn Street Esplanade.
- Wrap up the project to widen Custis Trail and fix bike lanes, add ADA-compliant curb ramps and crosswalks with more visibility, among other changes.
- Complete the long-awaited, million-dollar Corridor of Light art installation near the Key Bridge
The funding vote is currently listed on the Board’s consent agenda, which is typically reserved for topics members intend to pass without debate.
Gerber was acquired by Nestlé in 2007 and has pledged to invest $5 million in relocating to Arlington. Nestlé has set up shop in its 250,000 square-foot office space in Rosslyn and promised to bring 750 jobs to the county.
Image courtesy of Arlington county
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Possible Meteor Lights Up the Sky — There were numerous reports of a meteor seen over Arlington, the D.C. region and much of the East Coast around 11 p.m. last night. [Twitter, BNO News, NBC Washington]
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Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
Healthcare technology company Cerner is coming to Rosslyn, renting out space in the massive office building that recently became home to Nestle’s U.S. corporate headquarters.
The Missouri-based company plans to lease out just over 38,075 square feet at 1812 N. Moore Street, according to a release today (Tuesday) from building owner Monday Properties.
Cerner will occupy the entire 14th floor of the building, and part of its 12th floor, in order to house staffers working on the company’s contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The company employs about 27,500 people across 35 countries, according to its website.
The move marks another success for Monday Properties in luring tenants to the 537,000-square-foot building, after a rocky few years following its opening in 2013. The developer built the tower “on spec,” without any tenants secured ahead of time, and it sat largely empty for months.
But Nestle’s decision to relocate its American corporate headquarters to the space, followed soon after by Nestle subsidiary Gerber, meant that roughly half of its space was spoken for in the space of of just over a year.
Cerner’s move comes just a day after plans came to light that WeWork plans to open a new coworking space at the CEB Tower (1201 Wilson Blvd), representing yet more good news for Arlington leaders looking to reverse Rosslyn’s rising office vacancy rate.
“We see this deal as further confirmation that Rosslyn has become the place to be for companies at the forefront of innovation, from technology and consumer goods to health care,” Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, wrote in a statement. “Our proximity to the federal government combined with a highly educated workforce and vibrant urban core provides unique opportunities for corporations like Cerner that are experiencing exciting global growth.”
Photo via Monday Properties
Nestle is now in line to earn half of the $4 million in local grants Arlington promised the company in exchange for moving to Rosslyn, after meeting the county’s targets to qualify for the incentives.
In all, the packaged food giant will receive $12 million in cash and infrastructure improvements after agreeing to relocate its corporate headquarters to 1812 N. Moore Street last February. But the money did come with some strings attached, forcing the company to prove that it will create 748 new jobs with an average annual salary of $127,719 in the county and lease at least 205,000 square feet of office space by the time 2020 arrives.
Only $4 million will come from the county itself, through a “Economic Development Incentive” grant, while a $6 million state grant and $2 million in nearby infrastructure construction round out Arlington’s deal with Nestle. Even still, the grants have become a hot-button political issue around the county, with plenty of observers questioning whether the incentive money might’ve been better spent elsewhere.
So far, at least, the company seems to be holding up its end of the bargain. According to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request, Nestle has created and maintained 358 new jobs at the Rosslyn office, and has leased 229,000 square feet of space in Rosslyn through June 30. Daniel Nugent, chief legal officer and general counsel for the company, signed a July 18 affidavit attesting to those statistics.
That means the company has well exceeded its office space requirement to earn the grant money, but fell just short of the 374 new jobs it needed to create by the time June 30 rolled around.
However, Cara O’Donnell, a spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development, noted that the company only needed to hit 90 percent of the grant’s requirements to earn the money. Accordingly, the county will now release $2 million to Nestle.
“This year, Nestle achieved 95 percent of its new jobs target and 111 percent of its facility lease target, well above the 90 percent required in each category,” O’Donnell told ARLnow. “They are currently meeting targets as required.”
Josh Morton, a spokesman for Nestle, added that the discrepancy in the job figure is because “the number is always changing as more people are hired in Arlington.” In July and August alone, he says the company hired another 125 employees.
Though she generally remains “skeptical” of such relocation incentives, County Board Chair Katie Cristol thinks “it’s great, but not a surprise to know that Nestle is performing consistently with those expectations.” She attributes that to the work of county staff to “develop an incredibly conservative incentives program where we can see a very clear and really significant return on investment in any incentive we make.”
“We’re not going to do something speculative where we’re giving away the public’s money without a lot of confidence that we’ll see that money return to us well in orders of magnitude beyond what we invested,” Cristol said.
Cristol is well aware what kind of controversy the Nestle incentives kicked up after the Board approved them last year, and how the prospect of similar grants going to Amazon to bring HQ2 to Arlington has roiled the community.
So while she does remain “a little uneasy” about the prospect of “a community like Arlington, that has so much else to offer, seeking to offer cash incentives,” Cristol thinks the Nestle deal does show that these grants can work, if managed properly.
“We’re delighted to have Nestle here, they’ve been a great partner in the community already,” Cristol said. “And in the long term sense… we’re going to be really gimlet-eyed about continuing to look at all over those targets and looking at the return on investment over the life of any deal we put together.”
Nestle will next report back to the county on July 15, 2019 to affirm that it’s indeed created all 748 jobs it promised for the Rosslyn office.
Tina Sherman says she was stunned to wake up one morning and discover that her country suddenly wasn’t interested in promoting breastfeeding around the world.
Sherman, a North Carolina organizer with the progressive activist group “MomsRising,” was disturbed and puzzled to see the New York Times reporting that American officials pushed back on a seemingly innocuous resolution supporting breastfeeding at a gathering of the World Health Organization’s governing body.
As a mother herself, Sherman couldn’t understand why the U.S. would seek to abandon its longstanding support for breastfeeding, which research has often shown is healthier than baby formula and considerably less expensive. But as she read on, it didn’t surprise her that some advocates saw the influence of major baby formula producers at play in the dust-up.
“We know the benefits of breastfeeding, and it just seems to be in direct opposition to everything that we stood for,” Sherman told ARLnow. “We don’t know, but we can guess who was involved.”
Nestlé, in particular, has come under fire for decades now for allegedly using misleading marketing tactics in developing nations to promote baby formula, en route to becoming the market leader in infant milk products worldwide. So Sherman decided to express her outrage to the company directly, and worked with several other advocacy groups to collect more than 80,000 signatures urging Nestlé to change its ways.
The advocates, who even earned the backing of actress Alyssa Milano, delivered the petition to Nestlé’s new Rosslyn headquarters today (Tuesday) and met briefly with some company representatives to discuss the issue.
Nestlé spokesman Josh Morton says the company “welcome[s] the opportunity for meaningful engagement” on the issue, stressing that “we prioritize the health and wellbeing of babies.”
The company has long denied any wrongdoing when it comes its formula marketing, and Morton added that “Nestlé believes that breastfeeding is best for babies. Full stop.”
Though other formula companies have been more reticent to denounce the Trump administration’s actions on breastfeeding, Nestlé has worked to distance itself from the controversy, and Morton stressed that the company supports the WHO’s current stance on the practice.
Sherman says she’s certainly encouraged that the company at least says it’s willing to hear her group’s concerns. Yet Julia Skapik, a practicing physician in D.C. and a MomsRising volunteer, said she can’t help but be skeptical of company’s clear “profit motive.”
“Especially in places that are resource-poor, the idea that families are being convinced that they should take what little resources they have and put it towards formula is really frustrating and it’s sad,” Skapik said.
Morvika Jordan, another volunteer from Manassas, sees the company’s priorities misplaced, with “the idea of profit superseding the idea of health.”
But between the article in the Times and Tuesday’s demonstration, Sherman thinks executives at Nestlé, at least, “know that we’re watching.”
“If they can turn that marketing around, we’ll be right back out here cheering them, thanking them,” Sherman said. “But if they don’t, we’ll be back here to let them know what we think.”
(Updated Aug. 1, 9:15 a.m.) For Rosslyn, and perhaps Arlington itself, Nestle’s arrival could represent a bit of a breakthrough.
As the federal government’s cut back on office space and more companies shift to telework, the neighborhood has seen its office vacancy rate skyrocket over the past few years, straining the county’s finances in the process. But the packaged food giant’s decision to relocate its corporate headquarters from California to Arlington, bringing 750 jobs to a high-rise at 1812 N. Moore Street, could very well signal the reversal of that trend.
Or, at least, that’s what local leaders are counting on.
“We were in a long kind of slump,” County Board member Libby Garvey told ARLnow, reflecting on Nestle’s impact as the company officially opened its Rosslyn offices today (Tuesday). “But this is really a turning point, and I think it’s really positive.”
Garvey points out that the building Nestle is moving into was built “on spec,” without any tenants locked in before its construction, and sat vacant for years after its completion in late 2013.
But since Nestle announced last year that it’d be moving to Arlington, she’s seen a domino effect in the neighborhood. The company’s not only brought one of its subsidiaries to Rosslyn, announcing Gerber’s relocation to the area this spring, but Nestle’s arrival also helped convince the Grocery Manufacturers Association to move to get closer to the company, Garvey says.
“It just put us on the map,” Garvey said. “You just start to attract birds of a feather.”
While those businesses may very well help fill the county’s coffers, they didn’t come without a cost. The Board handed out about $4 million in performance grants and committed to $2 million in infrastructure improvements to woo Nestle to Rosslyn in the first place, earning criticism from people all along the political spectrum in the process.
Yet Garvey points out that the county’s denied relocation incentives for some smaller companies looking to come to the area in the wake of Nestle’s move, only to win their business anyway. She has full confidence in county staff to make sure that Nestle is living up to the economic benchmarks laid out in the grant requirements, noting “if there’s a problem, I assume they’ll tell us.”
“But I don’t think there’s going to be a problem,” she said.
Incentives for corporations are a touchy subject around the county these days, with much of the debate around Arlington’s bid to win Amazon’s second headquarters centered on what exactly the county’s offered the tech company to move here.
Officials have largely been silent on the subject, citing the fierce national competition to win HQ2 and its promised 50,000 jobs. But with other states publicly offering billions in incentives and transportation improvements, Virginia leaders have noted that the county’s surest path to luring the tech giant may be highlighting its highly educated workforce and top-ranked schools.
Steve Presley, Nestle USA’s chairman and CEO, repeatedly highlighted the quality of the school system in laying out why his company picked Arlington, and that’s the sort of feature the county’s boosters believe could prove similarly persuasive to Amazon.
“They’ll be thinking not only, ‘Can we find the qualified workers we need?’ but, ‘How do our workers feel about coming to Virginia?'” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) “Workforce and the education system go hand in hand. That’s what we always need to focus on to attract businesses and we need to sell the fact that we have a really good education system compared to other states. That’s a real strength.”
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has certainly been involved in making that pitch to Amazon, reasoning “the more talent we bring in here, the more folks that follow.”
But he says there’s no telling when Arlington might know if Nestle is the biggest fish the county will land, or if there are more ribbon cuttings in its future.
“I think they’re keeping their cards pretty close,” Northam said. “I don’t know anything you don’t.”
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Photo courtesy Jeremy Galliani