The Arlington County Council voted 5-0 in favor of an estimated $ 51 million financial envelope for Amazon's HQ 2, which includes a $ 23 million cash grant to be paid over 15 years.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc.'s second headquarters in northern Virginia was reviewed by local authorities on Saturday, which approved a $ 51 million financial package in a modest opposition. virulent.

People move to the rostrum before a news conference on the announcement of the Crystal City designation as the headquarters of Amazon's new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, United States, November 13, 2018. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque

In November, Amazon chose National Landing, a site owned jointly by Arlington County and Alexandria, just outside Washington, as well as New York for its headquarters, called the second headquarters. This followed a year – long search in which hundreds of municipalities, from Newark, New Jersey, to Indianapolis, competed for the coveted taxes and high – wage jobs promised by the project.

In February, Amazon abruptly canceled the idea of ​​building part of its second headquarters in Queens, New York, after opposition from angry local rulers by the incentives promised by city politicians and States.

The Arlington County Council, consisting of five members, voted 5-0 in favor of Amazon, who received the financial package after a seven-hour meeting in a room filled with about 150 citizens and representatives of local unions and minority groups.

Some residents and groups of workers have shown strong opposition, many of them chanting "shame" and waving placards with slogans such as "Do not be the opposite of Robinhood," "Overwork and underpayments". 39; Amazon "and" Defend our interests and not Amazon. "A protester was escorted out of the meeting by the police.

A few dozen protesters in front of the county office chanted: "The united people will never be defeated."

Danny Candejas, an organizer of the "For Us, Not Amazon" coalition, who opposes the company's move to the region, said, "We are fighting for people living here not to be charged a lot of money. . "

Some participants at the meeting waved placards saying "yes vote" and "Amazon is paramount to Arlington".

One hundred and twelve people registered to speak, an unusually high number for a county meeting, forcing Council Chair Christian Dorsey to reduce the number of minutes of discussion to three minutes for each regular speaker and five minutes, for representatives of organizations.

Many speakers opposed to the siege of the Amazon in particular opposed direct incentives, citing rising housing costs, the likely displacement of low-income families, the acceleration of the theft of wages for workers in the Amazon. construction and lack of guarantee of investment in affordable housing funds.

"Speculators are already driving home prices up, homeowners are raising rents, and general contractors are raising prices for home improvement projects," said one resident, Hunter Tamarro.

Unions, including the AFL-CIO, opposed Amazon's failure to sign a project agreement providing wage and benefit guarantees for workers engaged in the construction of new jobs. buildings.

June O'Connell, a resident, said Amazon's presence would allow Arlington to allocate public funds for investment in transportation and higher education. "I want this money from the state," O'Connell said. "Without Amazon, we would not have a cent."

Holly Sullivan, head of Amazon's economic development worldwide, said briefly that the company would invest about $ 2.5 billion, create more than 25,000 jobs with an average salary of more than $ 150,000, generating more than 3 $ 2 billion in tax revenue.

"With regard to incentives, Amazon is eligible for the financial incentive only after we have made our investments and occupied offices in the community," she said.

Dorsey, the chairman of the board, said before the vote that he hoped the measure would be passed. He said rejecting Amazon would not solve the community's problems and concerns, and it was the county's first deal for which new revenue growth would be used to fund it.

Admittedly, the vote approved about $ 51 million, a fraction of the $ 481 million promised by the county. Only 5% of the incentives are direct. In addition, Amazon has been offered a $ 750 million package by the state, which the Virginia General Assembly has approved with little opposition.

The $ 51 million includes a controversial direct financial incentive or a $ 23 million cash grant to Amazon over 15 years, which will be levied from taxes on Arlington hotel rooms. This subsidy is contingent on Amazon occupying 6 million square feet of office space in the first 16 years.

Arlington also proposed to invest approximately $ 28 million over 10 years of future property tax revenues in the on-site infrastructure and open spaces located at the headquarters site.

A document posted on the County Council website indicates that the $ 23 million grant and $ 28 million in strategic public infrastructure investments were "critical to Arlington's choice of Amazon as its headquarters.

Report by Nandita Bose in Washington; Edited by Richard Chang and Daniel Wallis

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