Amazon's HQ2 in Virginia just cleared a major hurdle, and it reveals a key difference from its New York project

Getty/Mark WilsonAmazon agreed to eventually locate 25,000 workers in Northern Virginia, as part of its planned HQ2 expansion.
  • The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $US23 million incentives package for Amazon.
  • The tax incentive is contingent on Amazon’s plan to build a second headquarters, known as HQ2, in Arlington County and will be fuelled by a higher tax on hotel rooms in the area.
  • The state of Virginia is offering an additional $US550 million incentive.
  • Saturday’s board meeting was said to be contentious, with protesters interrupting so often that the meeting was forced to adjourn and reconvene twice.
  • The result was a symbolic win for Amazon.

Virginia’s Amazon HQ2 is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Arlington County Board approved a $US23 million incentives package for Amazon during a six-hour hearing on Saturday, it said in a press release. Amazon representatives in attendance were asked questions by more than 100 local residents alongside the board.

The tax incentive is contingent on Amazon’s plan to build a second headquarters, known as HQ2, in Arlington County and will be fuelled by a higher tax on hotel rooms in the area.

Amazon plans to use the tax revenue for “office development and infrastructure investments,” Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of worldwide economic development, said at the meeting. A representative for the company declined to comment further to Business Insider.

Though the vote among the five-member board was unanimous, the atmosphere in the room was said to be anything but. Amazon HQ2 supporters and detractors clashed, with protesters yelling and twice forcing the meeting to adjourn and reconvene, according to The Washington Post. One activist was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, according to a local NBC affiliate.


Read more:
Opposition to Amazon HQ2 in Virginia is growing louder in the wake of its New York City defeat

Though the $US23 million incentive is much smaller than the $US550 million being offered by the state of Virginia, the result is a hugely symbolic win for Amazon. The company abruptly canceled its plans for a similar project in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens, New York, after it said elected officials in the region whipped up local opposition.

The county board is roughly analogous to New York’s city council, which was largely hostile to the HQ2 plan. Arlington leaders’ unwavering support for Amazon indicates that at least one HQ2 project is likely to see shovels in the ground before the end of the year.

“We plan to start hiring soon with the goal of having around 400 new employees by the end of the year,” Sullivan said during the meeting in Arlington.

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