Alexandria, Arlington leaders meet for 1st time to prepare for Amazon’s arrival

Amazon’s second headquarters is expected to bring major growth to Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia. And Tuesday night, local leaders held their first meeting to discuss their top priorities and how to prepare.

With community members looking on, members of the Alexandria City Council and Arlington County Board discussed how to best work together to accommodate the 25,000 jobs the tech giant will bring to the region.

“I think we can set a model ultimately for the country about how jurisdictions can accommodate significant growth and make sure it benefits everyone in the community,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

Some of the issues discussed as top priorities included affordable housing, workforce development and how to better assist small businesses.

While Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks highlighted collaboration that is already in the works when it comes to joint marketing efforts across Virginia, others also highlighted the need to work with a sense of urgency and implement a structure moving forward.

“If we are not intentional, if we are not deliberate about how we plan the response to implementing Amazon and Virginia Tech, things will just happen to us,” said Wilson.

When looking at next steps, officials plan to consider creating a city council panel to focus on creating immediate, actionable plans and create a draft outlining recommendations.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz supported the idea, saying that “while those conversations are taking place to put a structure together, and other things, the momentum we have here can be lost if we can’t at least try to identify a tiny little victory over the next few months.”

The meeting comes as plans have been submitted to redevelop a half-dozen buildings in Crystal City where HQ2 will go. The redevelopment encompasses about 2.6 million square feet of space across five multifamily buildings and one office building, according to JBG Smith, the developer of the project.

According to a news release:

The buildings include 2000 and 2001 South Bell Street (formerly 2001 Richmond Highway), 223 23rd Street, 2300 Crystal Drive, and 2525 Crystal Drive, which are all within a ½ mile of the Metro and Amazon’s new headquarters.”

Here is a map of National Landing. It shows where Amazon’s new headquarters will be located, JBG Smith recently submitted development opportunities, infrastructure improvements, and proximity to Reagan National Airport. (Courtesy JBG)

Amazon has been on a hiring spree recently, including holding a job fair in Arlington.

Arlington’s event drew hundreds of people hoping to work at the so-called HQ2. Some were in business suits with briefcases; others in baseball caps with backpacks. Some were recent college graduates; others were seasoned career veterans.

Amazon said it’s looking for all kinds of workers, from software engineers who can earn more than $100,000 a year, to warehouse staff paid at least $15 an hour to pack and ship online orders. The company said all the positions are permanent full-time or part-time jobs that come with benefits.

“People can come in and talk to Amazonians to learn about one or any number of the 30,000 roles we currently have open across the country,” Ardine Williams, Amazon’s vice president of workforce development, told WTOP from the job fair. “There’s lot of very different opportunities within the company and we’d like people to explore.”

Earlier this spring, Amazon posted the first round of job openings for its Northern Virginia headquarters. By the end of the year, Amazon aims to fill 400 positions there. That number is expected to grow to 25,000 by 2030.

Amazon already has more than 650,000 employees worldwide, making it the second-biggest U.S.-based private employer behind Walmart Inc.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher, Will Vitka, Kristi King and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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