Corporate name raises concerns in DC


It’s been a big week for name announcements in the district: The Washington Commanders (more on that later), Bezos Auditorium at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, and a new bloomberg trail.

And people have … thoughts.

Why is this important: That billion dollar question lingers… is DC for sale?

These new names come as DC’s economy diversifies from a largely government-driven focus to integrating technology and other industries.

  • DC Policy Center Executive Director Yesim Sayin Taylor told Axios that because the pandemic has pushed workers away from downtown and DC, new businesses are more important than ever.
  • “Commercial attraction will be very important,” she says of the downtown revitalization.

Driving the news: Amazon expands DMV footprint with 2 headquarters in Arlington, TikTok signed a lease near Union Market, and Tysons is becoming a tech hub.

Jo-Ann Neuhaus, longtime DC resident and executive director of the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, says she thinks naming the MLK auditorium after the library foundation’s largest donor is simply a reflection of what organizations do to thank their financial supporters.

Yes, but: The overall response to the new names has been mixed at best.

  • The most common opinion is that the names Bezos and Bloomberg do not align with the ideals and values ​​of local communities.
  • Critics of the library’s decision have specifically pointed out King’s criticism of the gap between rich and low-income people, and his support for workers’ right to strike.

Downtown Cluster of Congregations executive director Terry Lynch says it’s good to recognize contributors, but naming individual pieces in the library takes the honor away from King.

“I can’t really…say his accomplishments are significantly humanitarian in the same vein as Dr. Martin Luther King,” Lynch says of Bezos. “That’s a tough standard to achieve.”

Rollback: News of Amazon’s local expansion in 2018 came with the creation of National Landing, also described as “the DC area weirdest neighborhood.” A decision that shows how big business can reshape the DMV.

But all is not bad. Amazon has also donated millions to local nonprofits, as have other major corporations, such as Chase Bank.


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