Business leaders are confident Amazon’s plans to bring half of its second headquarters to Crystal City in Arlington County is a win for the region. But transportation, housing and continued support for a pipeline of workers will be key to making the most of the company’s move.
Amazon announced Nov. 13 that it will bring more than 25,000 jobs and invest $2.5 billion in the new National Landing that includes sites in Crystal City and Potomac Yard.
Some of the region’s top CEOs working with the Greater Washington Partnership hosted a conference call Thursday to discuss Amazon's plans. The partnership is composed of CEOs from across the region who are committed to working together to support the region’s growth.
The region’s key to success will be how well business, community, university and community college leaders work together, said Russ Ramsey, the partnership’s chair and CEO of Ramsey Asset Management.
“We need to seize this moment,” Ramsey said.
Virginia Tech, George Mason University and other higher education institutions will be important to educating students who could work at technology companies like Amazon, Russ said. In addition, the partnership wants to start a youth initiative to expose K-12 students to STEM job skills.
Virginia, Virginia Tech and Alexandria officials revealed on Tuesday plans for a $1 billion Virginia Tech innovation campus at a portion of Potomac Yard, less than two miles from where Amazon’s new headquarters will be located. The 1 million-square-foot graduate campus will “drive technology education and research [and] serve high-tech disciplines of the future,” according to the release.
“As Virginia’s land-grant institution, we stepped up to claim our role of driving economic development by leveraging our strengths in technology and engineering, and building on our strong partnerships in Washington, D.C.,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement.
Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, said the area’s effort in 2014 to try to bring Olympics 2024 to D.C. was the foundation that helped prepare the region to pitch itself to Amazon.
Salamander Hotels & Resorts has multiple locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, including Salamander Resort in Middleburg.
“...When one wins, we all win,” she said. “...We know change is not easy; we’re clear-eyed about the challenges in the capital region. We have the benefit of time to get it right. They won’t move here overnight.”
Ted Leonsis, vice chair of the partnership and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said Amazon’s second headquarters is a “fantastic moment for our community.” Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns sports teams such as the Washington Capitals, which won the Stanley Cup earlier this year.
“Our theme and banner of ‘when one wins, we all win,’ will come to play on this,” Leonsis said. “We have a belief in regionalism…It’s not Washington, Virginia or Maryland; it’s a super region. We’ll all be good stewards to make sure there is a good balance, that this is a win-win-win for Amazon, for business and all the citizens who work and live in this community and the ancillary businesses that will benefit.”
The Greater Washington Partners plans to release a regional mobility plan in the coming weeks, said Jason Miller, CEO of the partnership. The plan will outline proposed transportation investments.
The lack of affordable housing is a problem that existed before Amazon’s announcement, now the pressure is on to make sure there’s affordable housing in the region, Miller said.
“Amazon’s expansion is a catalyst for us to take this on,” he said.
Partnership leaders agreed Amazon’s move to Arlington County will have a large impact on the region.
Peter Scher, vice chair of the partnership and chair of the Mid-Atlantic region for JPMorgan Chase, said the region extends from Baltimore to Richmond.
“This will spread throughout the region,” he said. “...If we continue the collaboration we’ve seen over the last couple of years, we can achieve that.”