In today's NY Times, there is a piece about a problem in the local arts scene. It seems that Altria, the corporate parent of Philip Morris, will finally be moving its US HQ back to Virginia after spending the last few decades in NYC.
The article focuses on how this will affect the NY arts scene.
(courtesy: NY Times)
You see, even though Philip Morris has been a whipping boy for the media, it has also been one of the largest single sources of charitable giving in the NYC area. The graph above shows that Altria donated $7 million to the arts, $1.5 million to domestic violence, and $1.1 million to hunger to NYC programs in 2006 alone. The article states that once Altria leaves NYC it will not renew its grant giving which is scheduled to run out in 2008.
Altria has had to make several moves to protect itself legally. Maybe this is wrong, but it is business. Virginia made a play for the company and enticed them with tax incentives and other cost savings that Virginia has over NYC. According to the article, the cost of the move is $120 million, but Altria will save $60 million a year from the move.
Swampland.com hopes that Altria will replace its NYC arts giving by becoming an increased benefactor the Richmond area at large. Too often, the governments in the Footprint are only focused on jobs. They might be the most important thing, but corporations can give more than just jobs as Altria has shown in NYC over the last 30 odd years.
The arts, domestic violence causes, and hunger programs can use help all over the Footprint. We welcome Altria back home. Let's hope they continue to give to their new Virginia home the way they did in NYC. Virginia doesn't have Time-Warner or American Express to pick up the slack.