Let’s see now. Arlington County offered $29 million in incentives to land the economic development coup of the decade, Amazon’s HQ2 project. Now, according to the Washington Business Journal, the County Board is considering granting another $11.5 million in incentives to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration in town. Are you kidding me?
Citizens are raising legitimate concerns that the influx of 25,000 Amazon employees will drive up housing costs and displace lower-income residents and make Northern Virginia’s overloaded roads and highways even more congested. I have argued that the benefit to Arlington — increased economic dynamism and diversification — is worth the millions of dollars worth of enticements. But let’s not pretend there isn’t a cost.
Who needs to bribe the DEA when you’ve got Amazon coming? And not just Amazon, but all the vendors, partners, spin-offs, and other enterprises that will become part of the Amazon ecosystem. What does the DEA bring to the table? Economic diversification? Hah! The DEA perpetuates dependency upon the federal government. Economic dynamism? Laugh out loud! The DEA is a government bureaucracy.
Indeed as the WBJ’s Daniel J. Sernovitz points out, Arlington’s incentives represent an unhealthy competition with neighboring Alexandria, which also is vying for the DEA project. The Board is scheduled to vote on the matter later this month.
The only beneficiary from the subsidy that I can glean from the WBJ article is Clarion Partners, owner of the DEA’s current office space. If the DEA leaves, it might take Clarion a few years to fill the building back up — as it surely will be able to do as Amazon expands its presence nearby. My heart bleeds — NOT — for Clarion. Why on earth would Arlington want to spend $11.5 million to retain an office tenant of no strategic value when it will need every dollar it can lay its hands on to deal with the growth challenges posed by Amazon?
I would be astonished if the Arlington Board approves the incentives.There are currently no comments highlighted.