Sep 16, 2019

After Amazon HQ2, Northern Virginia tries to build regional brand

A view of Crystal City, the Arlington, Virgina, neighborhood where Amazon has chosen to base its second North American headquarters. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Capitalizing on the area's success in luring Amazon's second headquarters, 10 counties and cities from Northern Virginia are joining forces to strengthen their collective regional brand.

Why it matters: Getting separate jurisdictions to work together on economic development efforts is a familiar challenge for large metro areas that encompass multiple cities, counties or even states that often end up competing against each other.

Background: In its request for HQ2 proposals, Amazon encouraged regional responses. Four counties (Loudon, Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria) came together to submit a proposal under the Northern Virginia moniker.

  • The goal of the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA EDA), which was announced Monday, is to build on the region's success in winning HQ2 and build a brand and identity around innovation to attract even more jobs and growth in the future. The close proximity to policymakers doesn't hurt, either.
  • "While we are all very invested in promoting our own communities, there's a lot of power to collectively brand the region as a place for business," said Buddy Rizer, Executive Director of Economic Development for Loudoun County.

Details: Northern Virginia was first put on the map in telecom and tech in the 90s, when companies like AOL, Nextel and MCI got national attention. Since then, industries like cybersecurity and data centers have grown.

  • But the group was careful not to pigeon-hole the area into any single vertical, and chose to focus on innovation more broadly, said Stephanie Landrum, CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.
  • Members of the alliance: Arlington County, City of Fairfax, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, City of Falls Church, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, and Prince William County. 

What's next: Working more closely with Maryland and D.C. officials on shared issues such as transportation and affordable housing is the aspiration. "The workforce is not a jurisdictional issue; it's a regional issue," Rizer said.

Go deeper: Amazon's HQ2 could drain D.C.'s tech talent

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