Amazon spillover in Fairfax (and what to do about Tysons traffic)

In Virginia, Victor Hoskins, the current head of Arlington County economic development, has been hired by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to serve as its new CEO, and he’s already thinking ahead.

Hoskins was instrumental in the regional effort to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Arlington County and, while he’ll move across the county line to Fairfax Aug. 5, he is not leaving Amazon behind him.

In fact, Amazon may rely more on Fairfax County than it does HQ2’s own Arlington County home to staff up all those new jobs.

“About 33% of those jobs will be residents of Fairfax County. About 18% will come from Arlington County and 15% from D.C. So everyone is going to benefit, but Fairfax in particular is going to get the lion’s share of the jobs, which is really nice,” Hoskins told WTOP.

Fairfax County has a big pool of talent to offer Amazon. There are roughly 150,000 technology professionals working in Fairfax County — about one out of every four people.

It is also a highly-educated county, with nearly 60% of the adult population holding at least a four-year college degree. And Fairfax County also ranks as one of the highest household income counties in the country, which will make those big Amazon salaries important for recruiting.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently launched a program with a $1 million initial annual budget to develop ways to attract, retain and train more IT talent in the county.

Fairfax County’s crown jewel right now is rapidly developing Tysons Corner, but many people who live or work in the Tysons area aren’t boasting about all the new development. They’re complaining about the growing traffic it brought.

Hoskins said he is well aware of commuter congestion, and has made it a priority to work with developers and planners to address it. But he said he also thinks Metro’s Silver Line, and more development itself — particularly residential and mixed use development — will, in time, actually help ease some of those traffic woes.

“We can really take advantage of those Metro stations, and the great thing is when you build in and around Metro stations, you actually reduce the number of car trips. Millennials don’t like to own cars. We want to create a place where they don’t want to own cars or have to own cars. That is really the focus,” Hoskins said.

By 2050, Tysons may have more than 200,000 people working there, but more than 100,000 people living there, according to projections in Fairfax County’s comprehensive Tysons Corner plan.

Hoskins is entering big territory. Fairfax County covers more than 400 square miles with a population approaching 1.2 million. It is now home to more than 600,000 jobs, more than double what it was three decades ago. It has more than 117 million square feet of office space, one of the largest suburban office markets in the nation.

And, Fairfax County will keep growing. In Tysons Corner alone, a whopping 45 million square feet of new development over the coming decades is either planned, proposed or already under construction.

Arlington County has named Hoskins’ interim replacement when he leaves.

Alex Iams, assistant director at Arlington County Economic Development since 2014, will be the acting director. Before joining the director’s office, Iams worked on land use and infrastructure finance plans for the redevelopment of Crystal City, ground zero for Amazon’s HQ2.

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