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Loudoun County creates ad hoc committee in hopes of landing Amazon’s HQ2

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Amazon.com
With 37 days left to submit its request for proposal in hopes of landing “the deal of the decade” -- Amazon’s highly sought after second headquarters known as HQ2 -- Loudoun County on Tuesday approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to help its Department of Economic Development land the deal.

The establishment of the ad hoc committee comes as Loudoun -- and essentially every jurisdiction in the D.C. metro area -- competes for the prized project.

Supervisors said that since the search for Amazon’s second headquarters was announced by the company Sept. 7, they had received numerous texts messages and calls from constituents both in support and opposed to the deal.

Buddy Rizer, the director of the county’s Department of Economic Development, told supervisors he and his team spent most of the last four days planning and going over scenarios on how they could land the deal.

“We will be very aggressive in going after this,” Rizer said. “I truly believe that we’re a contender in this.”

The county’s Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC) -- a public-private partnership comprised of quasi-county agencies like Visit Loudoun, the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and some of the county’s largest companies like K2M, FCi Federal and Telos Corporation -- offered to help the county by forming an ad hoc committee to support the effort.

EDAC member Sharon Virts, the founder of FCi Federal and the Sharon D. Virts Foundation, said the ad-hoc committee would help economic development sell the county from a “business leader perspective” and coordinate testimonials from people in the business community.

Virts also said the ad hoc committee would develop education and training partnerships, as well as help the county better understand the process of site selection.

Another function of the ad hoc committee she recommended was “telling our workforce story,” an area she said could be illustrated through the Board of Supervisors’ upcoming Oct. 16 Housing Summit, an event where the board is expected to discuss the challenges it faces around a lack of housing and housing affordability.

Before pitching the idea of the ad hoc committee, Virts urged supervisors to “fully understand the severity and urgency” around the county’s lack of accessible and affordable housing in the county.

“A significant challenge in attracting new businesses to Loudoun is the county’s ability to provide a continuum of housing options required to supply the diverse workforce,” Virts said, reading from an excerpt of a statement EDAC plans to present at the upcoming summit. “Further, lack of accessible and affordable housing is adversely impacting many of our existing businesses and may affect our ability to retain these businesses if left unaddressed.”

Virts said her statement followed conversations with a number of Loudoun business leaders across all industries -- from data centers to tech, retail and hospitality.

But some suggested the county not mention the suggested elephant in the room in its Amazon HQ2 application.

“The affect Amazon has in downtown Seattle is extraordinary. They consume about 40 percent of the office space in the downtown,” Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said. “ … The average salary they’re talking about is over $100,000 … I wouldn’t focus on workforce housing. We don’t want to give them the impression that we have issues here with housing.”

Buona suggested the county instead focus on “everything we bring to the table based on the criteria in the RFP.”

Upon announcing its search, Amazon said it was looking for a location within a 30-mile proximity to a city center, with direct access to highways and public transportation options, including bus routes, Metrorail and train, and within 45 minutes of an international airport.

In its RFP, the company asked applicants to provide information on its community's "daily living, recreational opportunities, diversity of housing options, availability of housing near potential sites for HQ2, and pricing."

The company also said it was looking all over North America and that it would invest more than $5 billion in construction and bring with it as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

In the lead-up to the Housing Summit, supervisors have continuously stressed the need for the county to provide more affordable and workforce housing options as the county experiences high growth.

Earlier this year, an independent report found that by 2040 the county would have an 18,000-housing gap at a time when people from across the income spectrum are expected to migrate to Loudoun, a county that will likely be home to 7 percent of the region’s jobs.

But in the same breath, a recent county-sponsored survey found that a majority of Loudoun residents were frustrated with Loudoun’s pace of growth and development.

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle brought with it a $38 billion boost to the city’s economy from 2010 to 2016, in addition to 33 buildings, more than 40,000 employees and 8.1 million square feet of office space.

Earlier this summer, Amazon chose Fairfax County for it Amazon Web Services’ new East Coast corporate campus.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.


Loudoun has no chance!

Once Amazon learns that much of western Loudoun, where many of the 50,000 employees will live, has no broadband internet, Loudoun is off of the list.

Thinking that Loudoun can attract Amazon, with much of the county without broadband is crazy.

Did a single elected official bother asking anyone if we actually want this?  You got some text messages…great, that’s how we govern?  Yet again, as it was with Metro and the (Insert name here) Development Project, the Developers that actually run Loudoun Inc. are pushing this without a shred of concern over quality of life issues. 

Just our luck, longshot or not, we’ll get it…

Lets just build more townhomes.  You know that’s what gonna happen anyway.  Amazon?  No chance.

Please don’t try to get Amazon here. 50,000 jobs means roughly another 100,000 in support services. This means building more schools, sheriff stations fire and rescue stations, roads, etc. It means hiring more teachers, deputies rescue personnel, etc. It means buying more school buses and rescue equipment. It means paying a huge incentive to Amazon. Additional taxes will not come close to covering this, and that says nothing about increased congestion. Before I retired in 2000, I used to see signs in Eastern Loudoun saying “Don’t Fairfax Loudoun. We seem to be trying to out Fairfax Loudoun.

Actually I would say eastern Loudoun meets ALL of those requirements, or at least it will by the time Amazon would be finished building.  Not that I’m saying Loudoun will win (they won’t).

1.  Sterling/Ashburn is approximately 30 miles from downtown DC (give or take a few).

2. Being congested doesn’t disqualify a road from being a highway.  Ever been to Los Angeles?  And there’s also Rte 28.

3.  The bus routes are scarce right now, but we all know that Metro is coming like it or now.

I feel the economic benefits touted for this area by a company that doesn’t actually generate a profit are woefully overstated.  Considering the workforce in Loudoun is the most expensive in the country this spells like disaster if (when?) they need to execute the inevitable “reorg” (AOL, anyone?)

Besides, here is what Amazon is looking for—“Amazon said it was looking for a location within a 30-mile proximity to a city center, with direct access to highways and public transportation options, including bus routes, Metrorail and train, and within 45 minutes of an international airport. “

Loudoun County meets none of those requirements with the exception of Dulles, one of the most expensive airports in the country when it comes to airfare, landing fees, cargo logistics, you name it.  There is no direct access to any highway unless you count a congestion laden cruise down 7 or the toll road.  There is no metro, heck, Loudon would probably take a refund for the Silver in a heartbeat.  Not that Metro has a reputation, anyway.

The good in all of this is that Jeff Bezos and his various outlets are essentially charities more than businesses.  Our area has flourished quite well on its own without charity.  The fact Amazon would never end up here in the first place wont be missed.

Traffic per Business INsider - Austin is #15 worst, Boston #10, DC(that includes Loco) #9, SEattle is #4.  Austin has 1 trolley line, no near-term plans for more. Denver has extensive Bus and a burgeoning light rail system.  Boston has the extensive T system and busses. Dallas - nearly every highway is tolled, all new ones will be.

Folks are blinded by the numbers – and I think 50,000 is just to get folks excited.  100,000 headquarter staff seems a little excessive.  Maybe they are planning ahead for when the company gets broken up?

That said, Loudoun should make a great location.  Focus on: 1) Existing rather large foot print in the area to due to Federal Market and AWS hub selection. 2) Washington DC is an important place for the company be a power in as the company continues to morph and grow.  3) East Coast time zone will help with Global Expansion.  4) Dulles is a global gateway with regular direct flights to Asia and Europe.  5) Bezos recently purchased a $25 million dollar home.

There have been some reports that this whole competition game is just to secure some tax concessions.  But, then again, that would be smart and in Amazon’s interests—- even if costly to many of the bidders. 

Amazon is looking for a “hip” urban environment that attracts a younger workforce. Skyprince is correct - Loudoun County is probably tilting at windmills. Seattle area media is reporting Austin, Denver and Toronto are the current favorites.

I think Loudoun is a great choice!  Proximity to Nation’s Capitol to get your fill of culture, arts.  We have great schools, great food and our county is so amazingly diverse in 30 minutes you can hike the Appalachian Trail and get away from it all!  Go Loudoun!

Every major metro area in the country is choked by high prices and traffic.  Maybe Houston would have been the exception, but I don’t see that happening now.

That being said, Loudoun County couldn’t even land a minor league baseball team.  So you’ll forgive me if I don’t like their chances of winning an Amazon HQ.

Do whatever it takes to land this deal. The amount of high paying jobs far exceeds the costs of winning the deal.

Amazon touts it likes the urban nature of its downtown Seattle HQ. Loudoun has no equivalent environment. Dulles Airport has about 13,000 acres which were TAKEN by eminent domain from many Virginia residents under the label of national security which CLEARLY does not apply to the 24000 parking spaces MWAA controls. How much more of this economic engine could Loudoun benefit by if the parking lots were returned from federal tax free control back to Loudoun? In 2018 both the governor and congresswoman race is up for decision. Is it really possible that none of these politicians recognize the justification to return most of Dulles Airport back to Virginia control so perhaps some substantial job producing deals could be arranged instead of MWAA keeping its free ride!
Bob O__ Esq.

Let’s start tracking how much money will be spent on this ? Staff time equals money! In addition to all those brochures, LOCO stickers, tax incentives, county attorney time, etc. Mr. River how much did we spend in total to chase the FBI site?

Boy you are really tilting at windmills…the poop is that Boston and Texas has the inside track due to its proximity to Harvard and MIT and cheap Texas property and taxes. Amazon employees don’t want a place choked by high prices and traffic…two things LoCo has in its corner…did you not read the proposal…they said city…not hayseed county in the middle of nowwhere!! Dream on..

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