University of Virginia leaders celebrated the announcement of Amazon’s decision to locate a major headquarters function in Virginia as a significant opportunity for UVA to increase its contribution to the state in multiple ways.
Seattle-based Amazon said Tuesday it would split the location of its second headquarters between two areas known for highly educated and innovative cultures: New York City and Northern Virginia. For each, the decision promises to create immediate and lasting positive economic impacts, including a projection of more than 25,000 high-paying jobs in Northern Virginia over the next 12 years and an investment of $2.5 billion.
UVA President Jim Ryan enthusiastically embraced the Amazon news both for the promise it holds for higher education, and its significance for all of Virginia.
“Amazon’s choice to invest in Virginia is a testament to everything the commonwealth has to offer now and in the future,” Ryan said. “At UVA, our goal is to serve the commonwealth and beyond by providing education and training, offering outstanding medical care, growing the economy, conducting research and cultivating a new generation of entrepreneurs.”
Northern Virginia – already the home to the greatest concentration of UVA graduates – represents a critical region for the University and a focus of multiple new and expanded efforts in recent years. The Virginia Amazon headquarters will be located in “National Landing,” which includes portions of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington County, and Potomac Yard in the City of Alexandria.
In May, UVA appointed Gregory Fairchild as its first director of Northern Virginia operations. In the role, Fairchild, the Isidore Horween Research Associate Professor of Business Administration at UVA’s Darden School of Business, oversees the University’s programs and facilities in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, including those currently offered by Darden, the McIntire School of Commerce and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, among others.
“Amazon’s new location allows us to continue and strengthen existing relationships. For example, the company has been a major employer of UVA talent for some time,” Fairchild said. “Likewise, we share a number of related research interests and classroom engagements. Certainly, these involve technology-related pursuits and extend from there across the academic enterprise.
“Our developing presence within close proximity of the new Arlington-based location will help to facilitate a deeper, holistic set of collaborations – path-breaking research, corporate innovation, strategic leadership, community engagement. We look forward to working with our new neighbors,” he added.
Ryan said UVA will continue to sharpen its focus on the expanding Northern Virginia footprint.
“The Darden School of Business, for example, has opened new facilities in Rosslyn, and the Medical School is partnering with Inova to open a new campus in Northern Virginia. We’re working with Inova, George Mason University and the commonwealth to launch the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute to help advance clinical care through precision medicine,” he said. “Our School of Continuing and Professional Studies provides certificates online in business and technology to help working adults advance in their careers, and our Data Science Institute offers degree programs related to data analytics. In addition, the McIntire School of Commerce now offers a joint degree in business analytics with Darden and a degree in management of information technology on its own. Our Curry School of Education, finally, offers multiple part-time degrees for students in the area. We also have more than 30,000 alumni in the Northern Virginia area (our largest concentration of alumni) involved in a vast array of professional, civic and community endeavors.
“We look forward to working with Amazon to see how we can best work together to create opportunities for their existing and potential employees in the Northern Virginia area,” Ryan said. “We also look forward to working with our colleagues at Virginia Tech and George Mason to continue to strengthen Virginia’s economy and create economic opportunity for all Virginians.”
Gov. Ralph Northam said Virginia secured the Amazon headquarters commitment through an “unprecedented state, local and regional partnership after a 14-month competitive site selection process during which Amazon received 238 proposals from communities across North America.”
The governor’s office said the project is expected to result in more than $3.2 billion in new state general fund revenues over the 20-year incentive term with Amazon, after accounting for direct company incentives. In addition to the 25,000 direct jobs Amazon will create, his office said, the state estimates the creation of more than 22,000 permanent, direct and indirect jobs in Virginia.
“This is a big win for Virginia – I’m proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,” Northam said. “Virginia put together a proposal for Amazon that we believe represents a new model of economic development for the 21st century, and I’m excited to say that our innovative approach was successful. The majority of Virginia’s partnership proposal consists of investments in our education and transportation infrastructure that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.”