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Amazon's second headquarters is facing new blocks in the funding vote in Virginia



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc.'s plan to establish a second headquarters in Northern Virginia after being dismissed in New York is facing the first test as local officials on Saturday of a proposed finance package valued at an estimated $ 51 million.

Before a press conference, people are moving in front of the bleachers when it was revealed that Crystal City was selected as home on November 13, 2018, at Amazon's new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque

Amazon In November, National Landing, jointly owned by Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, near Washington, along with New York, chose the so-called HQ2 or Second Headquarters.

This was followed by a yearlong search in which hundreds of communities, from Newark, New Jersey to Indianapolis, fought for the coveted taxpayer money and high-earning jobs the project promises.

Amazon in February abruptly rejected plans to build part of its second headquarters in New York after local leaders had opposition angered by state and city politicians' incentives.

While the opposition in Arlington is still emerging, the vote has become a political hotbed between the supporters of the project and the activist opponents. It has given local activists the opportunity to demand a delay so that the county's proposal can be further examined and discussed.

A five-member Arlington County Board panel will vote on whether Amazon will receive the estimated $ 51 million, a fraction of the $ 481 million promised by the county. Only 5 percent of the incentives are direct.

Amazon also offered a $ 750 million package from the state, which was accepted by the Virginia General Assembly with little resistance.

The scene at Saturday's poll is likely to be different. At least 100 members from local activist groups are expected.

Protests are expected to begin at least one hour before the vote starts at 13:00 EST, as Reuters has learned from working groups.

The $ 51 million includes a controversial $ 23 million direct financial incentive or $ 15 million cash subsidy to be collected by hotel taxpayers in Arlington over a 15-year period. The grant assumes that Amazon has occupied six million square meters of office space over the first 16 years.

Arlington has also offered to invest approximately $ 28 million of future real estate tax revenues in on-site infrastructure and open space at its headquarters.

According to a submission posted on the County Board's website, the $ 23 million grant and US $ 28 million of strategic investment in public infrastructure were "critical to Amazon, claiming it was Arlington

Arlington County Chairman Christian Dorsey has publicly stated that he has "no interest" in postponing the vote, has not heard any suggestions from other board members and expects the action to be taken is passed.

Amazon's 25,000 new jobs will help offset the more than 34,000 jobs that Arlington has lost since 2003 due to the closure of federal agencies and other factors, and contribute to diversifying the local economy, said company spokeswoman Jill Kerr. "Our $ 2.5 billion investment will generate more than $ 3.2 billion in tax revenues that can be used for public services."

For Us activists, Not Amazon, a coalition of nine working groups and grassroots organizations working in areas such as minority advocacy are unconvinced.

Roshan Abraham, organizer of Our Revolution Arlington, a coalition member, said his group wants Amazon to become more involved with the community over public hearings keeps the company's investments focused on rising housing costs and low-income families near proposed location and donating affordable housing.

"What concerns us very much is that Amazon has been meeting behind closed doors at invitation events but the community was not publicly available, "said e

Amazon said it has met and continues to connect with many community leaders and residents, including local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community and civic associations, as it expands its presence in Arlington.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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