A Landmark 18 Months for Northern Virginia's Tech Hub

Over the preceding two decades, Northern Virginia has undergone a transformation from a suburb of Washington, D.C. reliant on the federal government's presence to a thriving destination in its own right that has emerged as one of the country’s top tech hubs. The process received a thunderous stamp of approval in late 2018 when Amazon made the decision to locate its HQ2 and accompanying 25,000+ employees in Arlington’s National Landing neighborhood. In coordination with that announcement, the Commonwealth of Virginia made unprecedented investments into the tech talent pipeline, most notably new innovation campuses for George Mason University (Arlington) and Virginia Tech (Alexandria). Combined, these corporate and government investments set the stage for the next decade to firmly entrench Northern Virginia in the top echelon of tech clusters in not only the country, but the entire globe.

 

A recurring question following the HQ2 announcement centered on the region’s ability to attract further investment from top tech companies and the timeline for when this might occur. While regional leaders were bullish for the long-term prospects, the short-term results surely exceeded many expectations when tech giants Facebook and Google announced plans for Northern Virginia offices in 2019. The positive momentum carried into 2020, as two additional Fortune 100 companies, Microsoft and Walmart Labs, committed to significant expansion plans for their Northern Virginia presences. The series of high-profile announcements was recently buoyed by Amazon’s completion of its first year in Arlington, which saw construction begin on a 2.1 million square-foot headquarters and the hiring of their 1,000th HQ2 employee.

 

In addition to the corporate success stories, Northern Virginia is receiving increased recognition from tech-focused publications in their latest annual rankings. On the talent side of the equation, CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report ranked Washington, D.C. as the second best region in North America based on an analysis of labor market conditions, cost, and quality for highly skilled tech workers in North America’s top 50 markets. The impressive ranking saw the D.C. region jump above Seattle and Toronto from the prior year, trailing only the San Francisco Bay Area. Meanwhile, Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report considered D.C.’s regional tech hub the standout ecosystem from the past year, as it climbed eight places to #11 in the world primarily due to its strong tech talent pool.

 

Even in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, Northern Virginia is poised to become a globally recognized tech hub due to the region's strong existing talent pool and future pipeline, proximity to the federal government, and robust transportation network. Combined, these assets will continue to make Northern Virginia an attractive business environment for Fortune 100 companies and innovative startups alike.

Topic: Economic Update
 
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