Amazon Picks Northern Va. and NYC for New Headquarters

Amazon’s second headquarters — called HQ2 — will be in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City and in New York City, The Washington Post reported last night.

The company is expected to announce today that it is splitting its additional HQ location that will create up to 50,000 jobs, between the two East Coast major cities.

The decision will end months of intense competition among many different North American cities to win over Amazon and influence its decision makers. It’s not clear what the deciding factors were but all along Amazon had made clear that it really wanted financial incentives, such as tax incentives and outright grants.

The Post said it had talked to Amazon insiders who talked to them on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements.

Crystal City is in Arlington County, right across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia, and just a mile from Reagan International Airport.

Amazon’s move will cement Northern Virginia’s reputation as a magnet for business and for corporate headquarters. It will also help convert the Washington D.C. area into a high tech region that some people call “an eastern outpost of Silicon Valley.”

The move is also a victory for Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other local leaders who worked on the bid. It is a huge economic-development prize that will lead to many billions of dollars in capital investments in the area. Unfortunately it will also add pressure to the region’s high housing prices, overly congested roads, and the growing divide between wealthy and low-income residents.

The move to New York City also represents a victory for both New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The governor had joked during the bidding process that he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” if necessary to land the project.

Amazon’s decision to split the project rather than open just one second headquarters angered some of the bidders. They said the company had created very heated competition among cities and then changed the rules in the middle of the game.

Other critics said it was unfair that the company was mostly considering sites in affluent communities.

However, the difficulty of finding 50,000 qualified workers with advanced computer skills in a single region made a split headquarters logical.  Dividing the project also reduces pressure that growth will put on housing, transportation networks and schools.

Incoming socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said her constituents in Queens, New York City, are outraged that Amazon will locate one of its new headquarters in nearby Long Island City. It’s not clear why, but there will be further updates as the story develops.

Last month Amazon announced that it was raising the minimum wage it pays its workers to $15 per hour.