Amazon is coming to Nashville. One group wants to make sure that along with $230 million in investment and 5,000 jobs, that it also brings prosperity to all of Nashville.
The arrival is being described as a ‘game changer’ for Tennessee, and Stand up Nashville says the benefits that Amazon receives from its potential $102 million incentive deal needs to have a positive effect on the city’s population.
“Whether Amazon benefits or harms current Nashvillians, especially working people and communities of color, depends on what we do now,” said the organization in a release. “As taxpayers prepare to subsidize the world’s second most valuable company, we have to ask: ‘What are we doing to make sure we’re taking care of Nashvillians?’”
Last Thursday, Stand UP Nashville was joined by NOAH Affordable Housing Task Force, Union officials, and concerned residents appearing before the Industrial Development Board (IDB) at its monthly meeting to call on the IDB to adopt to adopt transparency standards from the ‘Do Better’ Law before considering the Amazon incentive deal.
The Do Better law encourages more transparency about conditions for workers for businesses who receive tax breaks or grants from the City.
Addressing the IDB, Stand Up Nashville Co-Chair Odessa Kelly said, “I can very well make the case that this board has been consistent in moving the working class and brown communities to the fringes of Nashville.”
Kelly also questioned whether the board had the interest of Nashvillians in mind and whether they have fully considered the lives that the incentive package will impact.
Lisa Smith, who recently moved from District 3 to District 8 because of housing affordability, went before the board to emphasize the difficulty people who want to work and live in the city experience. “I’ve been living in Nashville since 199 and I don’t know how it will sustain itself with the emphasis being solely on business and not the employees working here. We are doing ourselves a disservice,” she said.
What residents in New York and Virginia are saying about their new Amazon HQ
Residents of New York and Arlington in which Amazon has announced significant office expansion as part of its second headquarters (HQ2) have ramped up efforts to hold the corporate giant accountable by taking their questions and demands to board meetings and listening sessions in their respective communities.
On December 19, 50 New York City residents traveled to Albany to attend a Public Authority Control Board (PACB) meeting. A unanimous vote of the PABC would be required for the HQ2 deal to move forward as is. While Amazon was not on the agenda of this PACB meeting, residents were adamant in making sure that the Board knows that Queens neighbors (and people who live in other parts of the city) do not welcome Amazon to Long Island City.
Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of ALIGN in New York said: “In the midst of our crises around housing, education, and public transit, giving away $3 billion in taxpayer dollars to the richest man on earth is outrageous. Amazon needs to know that our communities are not fooled by this monopoly charade, and we’re demanding that none of our hard-earned dollars go to support this two-faced corporation. Amazon is not welcome in New York City.”
On December 17, dozens of Arlington residents attended an in-person Community Listening Session held by Arlington County. At a roundtable discussion, many attendees talked about the need to protect affordable housing, raised concerns about Amazon’s work with ICE, and expressed frustration that Amazon’s presence might push out long-time residents of the County.
Residents also attended two different council meetings in Alexandria and Arlington on December 15 to raise similar concerns. At all three events, activists expressed concern that non-English-speaking communities are not receiving information in their native languages—even on the County’s own Spanish-language site. This resulted in the County beginning to communicate in additional languages later in the week.
Roshan Abraham, Steering Committee for Our Revolution Arlington said: “It is incumbent open our county board to demonstrate their commitment to fighting for all Arlingtonians by rejecting this deal. Arlington faces an affordable housing crisis that will be turbo charged by Amazon’s pending arrival. An overwhelming majority of our low-income communities are already housing burdened and since the HQ2 announcement, the county government has yet to reach out to people who will be most negatively impacted. Instead of benefiting from the promised high-paying jobs, these largely immigrant and minority communities will be gentrified out of their homes. Our leaders should be working with the people to protect the community and focus on development that is for us, not for Amazon.”