ARLINGTON, Va. — Amazon's decision to pull its proposed HQ2 site out of New York City has re-energized some local Northern Virginians who oppose the company's plans to move to Crystal City.
On Monday, a group named "For Us, Not Amazon" held a community forum about Amazon, and its future impact on Northern Virginia, at Café Sazon in Arlington County.
Danny Cendejas said the event gave locals an opportunity to express their concerns.
“We need to do a lot of work to make sure that the people who are going to be most harmed by this potential opening are centered in the decision-making that our county does," he said.
Many local leaders and residents are excited about the potential economic benefits Amazon could bring to Arlington County.
However, Cendejas said he is concerned that gentrification and labor issues could follow the mega-retailer to town.
"It's already happening in Arlington County and in the region,” he said. “Our families are already being displaced. They're facing increases in rents and living costs."
He said he hopes last week's developments in New York City will show concerned local residents that they can also stand up to Amazon.
"The cards were also stacked up against people there,” he said. “But, their power as people came across and they were able to expose a lot of these issues."
On a Thursday evening teleconference call, following Amazon's decision, Arlington Board Chair Christian Dorsey said he anticipated such a response from people who oppose the company's plan to move to Virginia.
"I certainly think it will cause people to increase their opposition, but again, I do want to underscore how very different our communities are," he said.
But, Dorsey added, in a statement, Arlington County has no plans to abandon its relationship with the company.
“After speaking with an Amazon representative earlier today, we have confirmed that we are moving forward as planned with Amazon’s upcoming headquarters in Arlington – nothing has changed. Our current schedule is for the County Board to consider the performance incentive agreement in March, which includes 25,000 new jobs and 4 million square feet of office space. Arlington, and the entire region, are still honored that Amazon recognized this region as a top area for businesses and workforce talent and selected us as a site for its headquarters expansion.”
Roshan Abraham, organizer of Our Revolution Arlington, said he hopes the county’s leaders will place their investments elsewhere.
"We are asking the county to vote that incentive down and invest in preventing displacement,” he told the crowd.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has already signed a law that would give Amazon up to $750 million dollars in state incentives over the next 15 years if it can create up to nearly 38,000 jobs and 6 million square feet of office space.