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.”
Amazon Hiring Local ‘Economic Development Manager’ — Amazon is hiring for a new position of economic development manager in the D.C. area, though the company says the position is not connected to its HQ2 search. Per the Business Journal: “Responsibilities would include working on site selection, ‘new corporate initiatives, site expansion plans and requirements,’ and working with ‘state and community economic development, workforce and labor, taxation, and other key government agency officials, as well as chambers of commerce, utilities, and other key public/private stakeholder groups.'” [Washington Business Journal, Amazon]
New Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn — The team behind Chasin’ Tails seafood restaurant in East Falls Church is planning a new 5,000-square-foot Asian food hall, dubbed “Happy Endings Eatery,” at Rosslyn’s Central Place complex. Among the expected offerings will be Vietnamese food like summer rolls, noodle bowls and banh mi sandwiches; bubble teas; and Vietnamese coffee. [Washington Business Journal]
GW Parkway Traffic Woes — The kickoff of a new construction project caused bumper-to-bumper traffic on the GW Parkway yesterday. The project to repair the bridge over Windy Run is taking away one lane in each direction. Work is expected to last through early fall. [WJLA]
Free Food in Rosslyn Today — To celebrate the opening of its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, Nestlé is planning to give away free food, drinks and ice cream at Central Place Plaza from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. today. [Twitter]
Dying Dog Becomes Internet Star — “The saying goes: ‘Every dog has his day.’ That day has come for Smoke the hound, now featured in a viral video as he scratches off items on his bucket list. Smoke recently arrived at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington with terminal cancer. Now, the animal shelter is making every moment count.” [WJLA]
Photo courtesy Jeremy Galliani
Former Clarendon Walgreens Building Purchased — JPMorgan Chase has bought the building that housed the former Walgreens in Clarendon for $25 million, perhaps for a new bank branch. [Washington Business Journal]
Local Man Shot and Killed in Philly — An Arlington man who “appeared to be intentionally trying to run down people” with his car was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia. The shooting is under investigation. [WPVI]
More Details on Arlington Vehicle Decals — “The 2017-18 Arlington car-tax decal may come with a new feature: personalization. The county treasurer’s office is working on a plan that would add each vehicle’s year, make and model onto the new decals, which will start being distributed over the summer.” [InsideNova]
ACPD Launches Super Bowl Sobriety Campaign — “The Arlington County Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the country are huddling up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a special Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk reminder to urge football fans across the nation not to drop the ball on this issue.” [Arlington County]
VHC Named Top Hospital for Nurses — Virginia Hospital Center is the top hospital for nurses in Virginia, according to new rankings from a nursing website. [Nurse.org]
Signs Up for Nestle in Rosslyn — A Nestle sign is now up on the company’s new headquarters at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn. [Twitter]
State Senate OKs Arlington Hotel Tax Bill — The Virginia state Senate has passed a bill to authorize Arlington to impose a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge, to fund tourism promotion. The county’s current authority to collect the surcharge expires July 1. [InsideNova]
Robert Parry Obituary — “Robert Parry, an investigative journalist who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1985 for his Associated Press exclusives about the CIA’s production of an assassination manual for Nicaraguan rebels, died Jan. 27 in Arlington, Va. He was 68.” [Washington Post, Consortiumnews]
A top Nestle official will join Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at Oakridge Elementary School on Friday to announce the company’s support for an anti-child hunger initiative.
Nestle’s USA CFO Steve Presley will announce the company’s support for the initiative alongside McAuliffe, who is described by the spokeswoman as a “longtime advocate of fighting childhood hunger.” The event is scheduled to take place from 8:20-9:40 a.m. at the school in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood near Crystal City.
McAuliffe is part of the No Kid Hungry initiative, alongside the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Education and several corporate partners.
The public-private initiative aims to end child hunger in America by ensuring children have access to healthy food where they live and where they learn.
“Oakridge Elementary has implemented a breakfast program in partnership with No Kid Hungry that aims to provide children with a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” the spokeswoman said.
An Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed the visit, and said McAuliffe will show the officials from Nestle “how the school serves breakfast.”
Arlington Nonprofit Gets State Grant — “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Actual Driverless Car in Arlington — Moving beyond vans with people dressed as car seats, an actual driverless car has now taken to the streets within Arlington County. An autonomous vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University drove itself around Ft. Myer yesterday as part of the military base’s Industry Day event. [Facebook]
Nestle Buys Blue Bottle — Nestle, which is still moving into its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, has bought Oakland, Ca.-based hipster coffee brand Blue Bottle. Could that mean that a Blue Bottle location in Arlington is around the corner? Possibly, but the company already has a location across the river in Georgetown. [Washington Business Journal, Nestle]
Arlington Gets Gigabit Internet — Comcast announced earlier this week that “it has launched a new Internet service in Arlington that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to residential and business customers.” According to a press release, “these speeds will be among the fastest and most widely available,” utilizing DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The cost of the service is $79.99 a month with a one-year contract or $104.95 a month without.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The four Democratic candidates for County Board may hold differing positions on a number of issues, but they agree on one thing: Arlington’s subsidy to lure Nestle might have been better spent elsewhere.
At a forum last night hosted by the Arlington Young Democrats, less than three weeks before the local party’s caucus, the four Democrats running for the Arlington County Board said the package of $12 million in state and local performance-based funds could have better served the local community.
“This is good for Arlington, good for filling our office space, but I would rather have seen some of that money go towards child care in Crystal City and Rosslyn, for example,” said Erik Gutshall.
“At the end of the day, we have to consider who is getting a subsidy and if they deserve it,” said Peter Fallon, who added that given the competition between jurisdictions for such moves, incentives can play a role in the right situations.
Both Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil drew a comparison to the small businesses throughout the county, and asked if they could have been assisted like multinational Nestle was, in particular through the building of a website showing all that Arlington has to offer.
“If we can stand up a website for Nestle [employees that showcases the county] in three weeks, imagine what we can do for our small businesses in three weeks,” Klingler said.
“That red carpet should be rolled out for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Patil agreed.
In addition to general questions about the county’s tax rate, business community and the environment, each candidate faced questions specific to their campaigns and backgrounds from moderator Michael Lee Pope, a reporter with Virginia Public Radio.
Gutshall was asked if he is a so-called “party insider” due to the endorsements he has received from a slew of former County Board members and current chair Jay Fisette, who will retire at year’s end.
“I think it speaks to the fact that I have worked alongside these people for a number of years,” Gutshall said.
Fallon spoke about what he learned from his time on the planning commission and said that the county’s comprehensive planning at times has failed to keep up with the demand of county services.
Patil reiterated his call for a “green and clean tech economy” to encourage innovation and new industries in the county. “There is no city or state that owns that right now,” he said.
Following her run in 2012, Klingler said she was inspired to run again by the results of last year’s presidential election.
The candidates will be joined by independent Audrey Clement at a forum next Wednesday hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at Synetic Theater, then they will debate again the following Wednesday at ACDC’s monthly general meeting.
The Arlington County Board approved Tuesday a $12 million package of state and local grants for the relocation of Nestlé’s U.S. corporate headquarters to Rosslyn.
The food giant will receive $6 million in Commonwealth Opportunity Fund grant money from Virginia. COF money is incentive-based, and requires at least $36 million in capital investment and 748 new jobs with an average annual salary of $127,719.
That state grant will be matched by the county’s Economic Development Incentive grant and related infrastructure improvements. The $4 million EDI grant has the same requirements as the state grant but also requires that at least 205,000 square feet of space be leased.
The additional $2 million in infrastructure improvements is already planned in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, said Christina Winn of Arlington Economic Development.
Winn said those improvements include the Corridor of Light public art installation on N. Lynn Street, the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvement project, and relocation of bus stops on N. Moore Street.
The combination of grants shows “everybody giving a little bit to get so much back,” Winn said. She added that such incentives help Arlington stay competitive against its regional rivals, and that such programs are only used 7 percent of the time, when AED looks to attract big companies like Grant Thornton.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol said that she has previously been “skeptical” of such incentive programs, but that she sees their value in cases like this. Nestlé is projected to bring $14.2 million in net tax benefit to Arlington, and will bring an anchor tenant to the previously empty skyscraper at 1812 N. Moore Street. The move is seen as a big economic development win for the county.
“The case has been well made about what this means for Arlington County and why this is a significant decision on the part of Nestlé,” Cristol said.
Photo courtesy Monday Properties
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Nestlé is moving its U.S. corporate headquarters from Southern California to Rosslyn, the company announced today.
The move, a boon to Arlington in its effort to reduce the county’s office vacancy rate and its reliance on government-related employment, will finally bring an anchor tenant to 1812 N. Moore Street.
The 35-story office building, owned by Monday Properties, was completed in 2013 after being built “on spec” and has remained vacant since, awaiting a major tenant. Nestlé will be initially leasing 40 percent of the building, just over 200,000 square feet on the top nine floors, with the option to expand to over 250,000 square feet, according to a press release.
“Monday Properties is proud to welcome Nestlé, one of the world’s finest companies, to our landmark property, 1812 North Moore Street, in the heart of Rosslyn,” said Anthony Westreich, CEO of Monday Properties, in a statement. “This transaction is particularly special to my family and me because we have been intimately involved in the early development of Rosslyn, dating back to the early 1960s. My father, Stanley Westreich, and his partners developed many of the first high rise projects in Rosslyn, having overseen the Gannett Company’s relocation in 1984 to Rosslyn at our 1000 Wilson Boulevard project just one block east of 1812 N. Moore Street.”
Nestlé will be investing $40 million in the relocation and estimates that it will be creating about 750 jobs locally. The company chose Rosslyn over 20 potential locations across the country after being offered $10 million in grants from the state, and $4 million in grants and $2 million in infrastructure improvements by Arlington County, the Washington Post reported.
The Washington Business Journal was the first to break the news, ahead of a 3:15 p.m. press conference with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Rosslyn. Less than weeks ago ARLnow.com predicted that 1812 N. Moore Street would get its first tenant this year.
Arlington is not the only beneficiary of Nestlé’s move. St. Louis stands to gain 300 jobs as Nestlé centralizes its information technology operations in the city, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today. But Arlington is the big winner, gaining high-paying jobs and a prestigious corporate tenant that will further boost the county’s business reputation.
A big part of the draw: the highly-educated workforce in the area. Nestlé USA’s CEO cited “benefits for our current employees as well as a great talent pool for the future” in an Arlington County press release. That echoes what Monday Properties says is driving leasing along Arlington’s Metro corridors.
“Nestlé’s announcement comes on the heels of a number of high-profile corporate commitments to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, which has transformed and attracted one of the country’s most desirable pools of top talent for companies looking to leverage for future growth,” the property owner said.
More from the press release:
“It is an honor to have Nestlé as our anchor tenant at 1812 North Moore Street,” said Tim Helmig, President and COO of Monday Properties. “The magnitude of securing one of the most widely recognized corporate brands in the world reinforces our initial strategic business plan which was to develop an office project that would attract prestigious corporate tenants to occupy what is arguably the highest quality designed office project in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. As companies such as Nestlé increasingly look to procure first-rate amenities and easy accessibility to Washington, D.C., they’ll find that Rosslyn offers a business-friendly environment unparalleled with lifestyle opportunities for its employees.”
Soaring 390 feet, the LEED Platinum certified 1812 North Moore Street building is metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s tallest building with unprecedented visibility and recognition in the marketplace. Of incomparable caliber, distinct design and boasting the most efficient floor plates of any trophy building in the area, the building offers 537,000 square feet spanning 35 stories. The project’s remaining floors (encompassing over 300,000 square feet) provide future tenants with quality view space which is situated within a neighboring “who’s who” tenancy, including but not limited to Grant Thornton, Sinclair Broadcasting, Sands Capital, Raytheon Company, and BAE Systems.
“Rosslyn has clearly arrived,” noted Austin Freeman, Monday Properties Regional Portfolio Manager, who added “Companies are searching not only for quality and efficient real estate solutions, but want to be situated in a premier, transit accessible location that can attract and retain employee talent. 1812’s centralized location and Rosslyn’s unparalleled access to the entire metro DC region has resonated with corporate decision makers. When a company of Nestlé’s stature and global reach enters the market, it says a lot for the Rosslyn, Virginia story.”
On the heels of the Nestlé transaction and as a result of projected increases in defense spending under the Trump administration, Monday Properties expects to see sustained momentum in commercial real estate leasing within Rosslyn over the coming months. Monday has transacted on over 650,000 square feet of leasing activity in Rosslyn over the past 18 months.