When Amazon announced its plans to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America, cities and states around the continent stopped at nothing to woo the tech giant. They made promises of billion-dollar tax breaks and massive financial incentives — in a few cases, bigger than some countries’ economies — to get picked as the company’s new home.
Nearly four years after winning that sweepstakes, Arlington County has yet to pay Amazon a single penny. And that’s by design.
The coronavirus pandemic shrank some of the tax revenue streams that executives and elected officials said would grow as the e-retailer built its offices in this affluent Northern Virginia suburb. That has meant no cash grants paid out to Amazon — at least not yet — for its $2.5 billion capital investment in the county. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) …
Amid heavy criticism of massive incentives for Amazon, some economic development analysts say the news shows that Arlington’s incentives were designed well enough to account for the most unprecedented of economic curveballs.
“It’s no benefit, no cost, as it should be,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, a watchdog group that tracks government subsidies to businesses.
If Amazon’s headquarters was supposed to draw more visitors to Arlington, “the county is not getting all the benefits of people staying overnight and buying meals and going shopping,” he added. “So why should they get any money from the county?”