Region remains in the hunt for Amazon headquarters
Northern Virginia has made it to the next round of competition for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters.
Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., also remain in the hunt for the project, known as HQ2, giving the Washington area three prospects, more than any other region in the country. Two other Virginia contenders, Richmond and Hampton Roads, did not make the initial cut.
In mid-January, Amazon announced the 20 cities that are still under consideration for HQ2, which would create 50,000 high-paying jobs during the next 15 to 17 years. A final decision is expected later this year.
Amazon reviewed 238 proposals from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In addition to the three metro Washington contenders, the other areas now in the second phase of the bidding process are: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toronto.
In its September request for proposals (RFP), Amazon said it would prefer metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people that had access to mass transit, a stable and business-friendly environment and the potential to attract and retain technical talent.
The company also said the initial site requirement would be 500,000 square feet with total build-out for the headquarters expected to be 8 million square feet. Amazon made clear it wanted the headquarters to be within 30 minutes of a city center and 45 minutes from an international airport.
Virginia business leaders and economic development officials were giddy when news broke that NoVa made the short list. The region’s official proposal included sites in Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Michael Forehand, senior vice president for government and public affairs for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, says that, to continue being a serious contender, the region needs to focus on dedicated funding for Metrorail. Business leaders have been meeting to address how to fix the transit system, which has suffered from declining ridership and deteriorating infrastructure.
“That effort is currently taking place in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., and the business community is fully committed to getting that done,” says Forehand. “If we could, it would be a tremendous demonstration that leaders in Virginia are committed to one of Amazon’s key priorities spelled out in the RFP, access to reliable public transit.”