In late May 2019, Amazon posted the first job openings for positions at its new Northern Virginia offices. The company expects to staff up to as many as 400 jobs by the end of 2019 in the region that will soon be home to its "HQ2," and its initial hires are expected to help them staff that new facility and determine a plan for its operation and growth.1
In total, experts predict up to 25,000 new jobs may be created in Virginia over the next decade by Amazon HQ2, jobs that will demand an expansion of the state's tech-savvy workforce and require institutions of higher learning in the region to strategize their offerings to help produce this influx of skilled professionals.2
The Origins of HQ2
Amazon first announced its search for a city to host its second North American headquarters in 2017, promising a roughly $5 billion investment in the city that they eventually chose. This set off a bidding war that resulted in 238 submissions from major metropolitan areas, which the company trimmed to a shortlist of 20 in January 2018. New York and Arlington County, VA were announced as the joint winners of the competition in November of that year.3
However, a grassroots campaign by residents unhappy with the terms of the deal escalated into a legislative showdown between the New York City Council, the New York State Senate and Amazon in late 2018 and early 2019, resulting in the company eventually withdrawing from the plan on February 14, 2019.4 This left Northern Virginia as the sole remaining site for Amazon HQ2.
Inside the Plan for Amazon Headquarters Virginia
By winning the bidding war for the new Amazon Headquarters, Virginia signed on to be the site of a bold experiment in corporate architecture and urban planning. Planners have described the development as an "urban campus," including not only energy-efficient office space, but green space, retail space, bike paths and communal centers as well. The company also intends to integrate the campus significantly into the existing D.C. metro area public transit infrastructure as well.5
This innovative plan indicates that Amazon intends to not only add jobs to Northern Virginia, but to restructure day-to-day professional life there as well in a way that it believes will markedly improve the quality of those jobs. By spurring infrastructural redevelopment and designing novel ways to offer spatial amenities to their employees, Amazon seems intent to make its HQ2 jobs among the most desirable in the region.
Amazon HQ2 Jobs: What's in Store for Virginia?
In order to secure its place as the home of the second Amazon headquarters, Virginia offered the company a very generous package of incentives. Over a 15 year period, Amazon will be eligible for up to 15 percent of increases in the commonwealth's hotel tax revenue provided they meet construction and occupancy benchmarks over that time. Amazon is obligated to occupy 64,000 square feet of office space in the region by July 2020, and must increase that amount annually up to 6 million square feet by 2035.6
While the official number of jobs expected to fill this burgeoning office space is still the 25,000 initially agreed upon—one half of the total number that were originally planned for New York and Virginia combined—both the company and the commonwealth are open to increasing that number as construction continues. Their agreement already contains an option to increase the total number of jobs to 37,850 by 2034, and Virginia officials indicate that their capacity to add more office space is more than double the 6 million square feet currently planned.6
What HQ2 Means for William & Mary
The influx of 25,000 or more Amazon HQ2 jobs will necessarily place a strain on the technical and professional workforce in Northern Virginia, a strain that the company and the commonwealth hope to mitigate through a bold plan to significantly increase technological education at multiple Virginia schools.7
William & Mary's Board of Visitors voted in April 2019 to join the new state-wide incentive initiative that has been dubbed the Tech Talent Investment Program.8 The incentive program mainly centers on increases in computer science and data science education, but William & Mary's specific commitment to it is grounded in its institutional belief in the holistic development of a "Renaissance" skill set that values written and verbal communication just as highly as it does hard quantitative skills.
As Sam Jones, William & Mary's senior vice president for finance and administration, puts it, "What we are going to contribute are William & Mary graduates—people who are grounded in the liberal arts, who are excellent communicators and who are what we call business translators."8
Are You Ready for HQ2?
With hiring already underway for the first of many Amazon HQ2 jobs, now is the time to position yourself to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Online MBA and Online Master of Science in Business Analytics programs from William & Mary are both designed to develop the kind of balanced, multi-talented professional that can truly thrive in an innovative workspace like Amazon.
1. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from wtop.com/business-finance/2019/04/amazon-has-posted-its-first-hq2-jobs-in-northern-virginia/
2. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from hrdive.com/news/amazons-hq2-may-bring-virginia-25k-jobs-in-the-next-decade/554101/
3. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2018/09/12/timeline-amazons-search-hq-2-its-second-headquarters/1273275002/
4. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from ny.curbed.com/2019/2/18/18226681/amazon-hq2-new-york-city-timeline
5. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from foxbusiness.com/features/amazon-gives-a-sneak-peek-inside-its-new-hq2-in-virginiafoxbusiness.com/features/amazon-gives-a-sneak-peek-inside-its-new-hq2-in-virginia
6. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from geekwire.com/2019/amazons-hq2-deal-with-arlington-county-gives-big-concessions-asks-little-of-the-company/
7. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from washingtonpost.com/education/2018/11/18/universities-virginia-amazons-hq-came-perfect-moment
8. Retrieved on June 11, 2019, from wm.edu/news/stories/2019/tech-talent.php