Amazon says HQ2 – now split in half – will bring more than 25,000 employees and a $2.5 billion investment to Northern Virginia and the surrounding region.
To support the new hires, according to written agreements with the state and with Arlington, the e-commerce giant would receive a workforce cash grant from Virginia of up to $550 million based on $22,000 for each job created over the next 12 years, as well as a cash grant from Arlington of $23 million over 15 years based on the incremental growth of the local Transient Occupancy Tax. Hiring for both locations will begin in 2019.
With that many jobs at stake, DC Inno interviewed founders and investors in the region’s business community to get their thoughts on what HQ2 means for D.C.-area tech talent.
Amelia Friedman, co-founder of Hatch Apps:
“The presence of a tech giant in our backyard is great news for our larger ecosystem – the talent, energy and capital it will bring to our tech community is going to have a tremendous long-term impact on our local tech community. In the short term, competition for new recruits might tighten up, but Amazon has a median tenure of about one year, so we’d expect that they’ll attract, train and dispel some phenomenal talent long term.”
Hank Thomas, CEO and partner at Strategic Cyber Ventures:
“Any potentially short-term negative effects to the talent pool would be rapidly overshadowed by the fact that a tech company that is revolutionizing the way we live and work is planting itself inside the still government-focused Beltway. Awesome things will then grow and then orbit around Amazon, and D.C.’s technology ecosystem will flourish.
“As D.C.’s brand as a cool place to live and work for younger workers continues to grow, more people are talking about never leaving or moving here for more than just access to government contracts. It’s really becoming a place to be, especially as quality of life in downtown San Francisco continues to deteriorate and The Valley continues to become prohibitively regulated and expensive to operate from.”
Kestrel Linder, CEO of GiveCampus:
“Amazon locating half of its HQ2 in Crystal City would be great news for GiveCampus and the D.C. tech scene. Amazon would attract thousands of talented tech workers and it would widen the array of opportunities available to people who live in D.C. or are considering a move to D.C. With Amazon in D.C., it will be easier for people to envision a long-term career in D.C. tech, with time spent at different types of tech companies, big and small.
“I do not see Amazon competing for talent with companies like GiveCampus. Those are two fundamentally different types of career opportunities, and although someone might want to work at both Amazon and GiveCampus at two different points over the course of their career, I don’t imagine many candidates seriously considering both options at the same time.”
Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics:
“The area already has a high employment cost index, and the added pressure from thousands of jobs will certainly result in increased labor costs. Increased tech investments by local colleges, more investment from the venture community and labor training are essential to help combat this.
“As a D.C. native, I’ve also noticed a large portion of our local workforce consists of people who were raised or went to school here. There’s a strong possibility that as this area will become more attractive to talent from all over the country, even a post-college destination of choice for tech talent.”
See more of White’s thoughts on HQ2 here.
Jonathan Aberman, director of Amplifier Ventures:
“If you look closely at the incentives offered by the Virginia government, you’ll note that there is a large premium placed on education and workforce development … This is by far the biggest benefit to Amazon coming here. It will increase our talent pool for consumer-focused technology applications.
“We have had for some time a problem that our region’s tech talent is far too focused on delivering technology as a consulting product. The 25,000 positions that Amazon will be looking to fill will be jobs that will help to migrate us away from consulting.
“The current workforce data shows that we have a consistent exodus of tech talent that leave our region because they don’t want to be consultants, and go to places like Silicon Valley and New York. They will now have a reason to stay.”