On Tuesday, embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that paves the way for the state to eventually provide up to $750 million in cash incentives for Amazon to build its new headquarters in the northernmost part of the state.
The deal, which was announced last November, would split up the new Amazon headquarters between Virginia and New York City. State governments from all over the country sought to make this deal which promised to bring thousands of “high-paying” jobs to the area. In the case of Virginia, that’s nearly 40,000 over several years.
“We are excited for what the future holds”
No public ceremony was held to celebrate the signing, as Northam faces continual calls for his resignation after a photo in his medical school yearbook depicted him either wearing blackface or dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume. Northam has disputed these claims, but said that he wore blackface for a dance competition while in medical school.
The piece of legislation in particular creates a fund that would receive and disburse $550 million in incentives for Amazon to bring half of its second headquarters to the Crystal City area. This is only for the first phase of the Amazon project, which is predicted to create a little over half of the total number of jobs. These incentives equal about $22,000 per each job brought in and will not be fully paid out until they are officially created and are generating additional revenue through income tax to pay for them.
These subsidies have been hotly criticized for being too high for a company like Amazon, which brought in a record-setting $72 billion revenue this past quarter alone.
“We believe the establishment of our headquarters in Virginia and 25,000 new, high-paying jobs, is a benefit to the entire commonwealth, and we are excited for what the future holds,” Amazon spokeswoman Jill Kerr said.
Amazon already employs over 8,500 people in the state.
HQ2 discussions aren’t fairing as well in New York City, however. On Monday, Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris was nominated to sit on New York’s Public Authorities Control Board, which must unanimously approve the deal before it is completed. Gianaris has been one of the most outspoken New York state lawmakers to oppose the deal, and his position on the board would give him the ability to veto it.