Two years ago, Amazon provided a huge jolt to the Crystal City, Virginia, area when it announced it was building a second headquarters, known as HQ2, with a promise to hire 25,000 new employees. Despite the pandemic and a huge shift in remote work, the company says it’s still on track to reach that goal.
Amazon planned to hold a low-key, socially distanced ceremony Monday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the last building it plans to lease while construction continues on a pair of 22-story towers just west of Richmond Highway.
Ground was broken on that project earlier in the spring. So far, Amazon has 1,000 employees working in office space being leased nearby.
“The new development will house thousands more employees in the coming years, opening in 2023,” said Brian Huseman, a vice president of public policy with Amazon. “We’ve got a big hole in the ground right now, and construction is proceeding on schedule.”
Several cranes stretch high in the sky in the morning while a constant hum of trucks and construction equipment groan on at the ground level there.
Besides the construction, business on the retail and delivery side at Amazon has thrived during the pandemic. At the same time, Huseman said Amazon is allowing employees to work remotely through next summer.
The realization many companies are coming to is employees don’t have to be in an expensive, centralized hub to get work done, and video conferencing can be used instead of a cross-country business trip.
Yet, those changes are not causing anyone at Amazon to reconsider the promised investments in the region.
“Our offices are open with enhanced safety protocols,” said Huseman. “I think we’re all trying to figure out what a work environment will look like as the pandemic hopefully subsides. But we’re committed to Arlington. We’re committed to our second headquarters and adding 25,000 employees here over the next decade.”
That means the human resources department is busy right now since Amazon is looking to make lots of new hires now and in the future.
“Basically, any job that happens at Amazon will be located at HQ2,” Huseman said. “That includes everything from jobs at Amazon Web Services to jobs creating new services for our Alexa devices to retail divisions. So we’ve got over 500 jobs open right now across the whole region.”
Additionally, Amazon said on Monday that it would be donating $9 million to area organizations for legal services, racial equality and economic development.