Talent, Tech and Feeling Welcome: Why Amazon Chose Arlington for HQ2

Feeling welcome and looking to the future were the themes at today’s “Amazon HQ2-apalooza,” a sold-out event from Bisnow that brought together real estate developers, economic developers, educators and more to tell the story of Arlington’s path to landing Amazon HQ2, dubbed the largest real estate deal in history, and where the process goes from here. More than 1000 people were registered for the Crystal City event. AED was a presenting sponsor.

Panel DiscussionPanel discussions throughout the morning centered on the important issues surrounding the project, from housing affordability and transit to the creation of new educational initiatives that will significantly increase the future technology talent pool in the region. Panelists also focused on the process itself – and what it was that led Amazon executives to ultimately choose Arlington as the location of choice for its much-anticipated HQ2.

“This region wins because we’re united,” said Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, who explained the process brought together unprecedented levels of partnership and collaboration not just in Arlington and Northern Virginia, but throughout the entire DMV. Added Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Director Stephanie Landrum, “The results of our collaboration are amazing, and now we’re ready for the next big one.”

The featured keynote conversation came from JBG’s Matt Kelly and Amazon global economic development head Holly Sullivan, who discussed at length the synergies of what made Arlington the ideal fit from the 238 communities around the country who bid for HQ2. While Sullivan noted incentives were indeed important, saying all parties needed to have “skin in the game,” she said the feeling of community and a talented workforce were paramount, and the Amazon family looks forward to being a part of Arlington.  

“We wanted to locate where our employees feel welcome. We feel that in Arlington,” said Sullivan. “This is our chance to diversify our talent base and really be part of the neighborhood here.”

The event comes on the heels of a recent Amazon-themed forum sponsored by COG, during which Sullivan and those involved with the project answered questions from an invited guest pool of more than 100 business and community leaders. Learn more about that regional conversation with Amazon.

Arlington County has held a host of community listening sessions and virtual learning sessions to help answer the community’s questions about the HQ2 process and Amazon’s presence in Arlington. The County Board is expected to vote on its incentive proposal for the project in March.

Topic: Economic Update
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