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Managing 'The Amazon Effect': Arlington & Alexandria leaders plan rare joint meeting

(Photo: ABC7)
(Photo: ABC7)
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Leaders in Arlington County and Alexandria know that Amazon's second headquarters could bring both unprecedented opportunities and unprecedented challenges to this area. That's why they're now planning unprecedented cooperation between the two communities.

On Tuesday, October 1, the Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council will hold a rare joint work session, to "consider ways they can cooperate to manage the growth expected from Amazon’s HQ2". The meeting is open to the public.

It will take place from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Gunston Community Center at 2700 S. Lang Street in Arlington.

"Even though Amazon is going to be located entirely within Arlington, the effects of this investment are going to spill over into Alexandria. There is a massive investment in Alexandria proper, with Virginia Tech and other educational investments," said Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey. "Mayor Justin Wilson and I talked about this almost immediately after Amazon made its announcement. And we started to look at the map and the timeline and realized, well, if we're not intentional, we're going to be caught flat footed."

Amazon expects to spend $2.5 billion dollars on its second headquarters in Arlington and plans to hire 25,000 employees at HQ2 over the next decade. The pitch that helped Arlington land Amazon HQ2 included a new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus that will be located near Potomac Yard in Alexandria.

That's why Arlington and Alexandria's leaders feel this joint work session between the two legislative bodies is a good idea.

"Coming together really to wrap ourselves around one key question, how are we going to jointly respond to the growth and investment opportunities that are coming to Arlington and Alexandria associated with Amazon," said Dorsey. "And how are we going to help communities that are most vulnerable to involuntary displacement? Low income renters, low income homeowners, and independent small businesses - how are we going to help them become empowered so they can actually control their destinies within this changing environment?"

In a news release, Arlington County said "the unusual effort to fashion a joint approach on an array of related issues is meant to address concerns in both communities about the impacts on rents, housing prices, schools, streets, the environment and more in the wake of Amazon’s arrival and expected expansion, over the next 15 years, of its headquarters workforce to 25,000 employees"

At Tuesday's meeting, the two elected bodies will discuss whether to consider a joint entity focused on creating and preserving affordable housing, moving transit plans forward, and ensuring the availability of workforce training.

"We believe that the very same partnership that was successful in attracting Amazon and Virginia Tech to Arlington and Alexandria can now be pivoted to ensure that the benefits lift up all in our community," said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. "We're two communities with shared values, and I believe we can chart a course for an inclusive growth to benefit our residents."

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To learn more about Tuesday's joint work session between the Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council, click here.

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