In Nashville, Will Amazon Overpromise and Under-Deliver?

A transparency measure passed last year in Nashville has l, “in an effort to start establishing its own pipeline of diverse prospective employees.” Amazon has also committed $100,000 to Project Return, a local organization that helps the formerly incarcerated return to civilian life.

And while there are few ways to claw back incentives once they’re given, Nashville has given itself an escape route by passing the “Do Better” law, which mandates that companies submit quarterly reports to the mayor’s office of economic and community development providing updates on hiring and wages. If Amazon gets two years into the project—paid $500 for each job it creates—but doesn’t hold to its salary and local hiring commitments detailed in the resolution, the council can suspend or terminate incentives, said Barnett.

Arlington County, which has been chosen to host another 25,000-employee Amazon campus, does not have similar transparency measures in place. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam quietly signed away up to $750 million in state incentives (some of which is contingent on hiring) to Amazon last month; and the Arlington county council will vote Saturday on the county’s own incentive package of $23 million, which is tied to projected increases in the local hotel tax.

Activists hope to use a public hearing before the vote to raise their own concerns over Amazon’s cooperation with federal immigration agents, its perceived lack of public engagement, and its potential to inflate already-high housing prices—though local polling shows that county residents are overwhelmingly supportive of the deal there, and they have few allies on the county council.

“We’ve lost 25,000 jobs in this century,” said Christian Dorsey, the Arlington County Board’s vice-chair. “Amazon is effectively going to bring us back to the peak of our prior economic performance.”

But as activists in New York City proved last month when they drove Amazon away from building its planned campus in Long Island City, Queens, nothing’s a done deal until it’s done.

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