Top state officials are coming to Arlington tomorrow for an unspecified “economic development announcement.”
“The Honorable Glenn Youngkin, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will join Arlington Economic Development and other state and local economic leaders on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, for an economic development announcement,” Arlington County said in a media advisory today.
Joining the governor and local officials will be Caren Merrick, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, as well as “leaders in Arlington’s technology and business community.”
The event is taking place Tuesday afternoon at 1225 S. Clark Street in Crystal City.
It is unclear what exactly is being announced. Arlington has been on a bit of a roll with landing major corporate headquarters, including the Nestle U.S. operations in 2017, Amazon’s HQ2 in 2018, and — this past summer, in successive months — aerospace and defense giants Boeing and Raytheon.
There have also been other notable developments specific to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area — collectively known as National Landing — in the areas of higher education (Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus) and connectivity (a plan for ubiquitous 5G).
In June the governor announced in Arlington that Boeing was partnering with Virginia Tech on a “$50 million facility for military veterans transitioning to civilian life” at the new Innovation Campus, which is being built in the Potomac Yard area of Alexandria.
Arlington has been combatting a rise in office vacancies exacerbated by the pandemic and work-from-home trends.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
Arlington County held its first-ever awards ceremony last week to honor fast-growing startups headquartered in the county.
The ceremony recognized companies that have experienced substantial growth in revenue, employment and venture capital — “REV Awards” for short.
“The REV Awards were created to celebrate the innovation and perseverance in Arlington’s business community,” said Michael Stiefvater, the Acting Director of Arlington Economic Development Business Investment Group, in a statement.
Companies were categorized based on their revenue, staff size and fundraising rounds completed to ensure fair matches.
“The eight winning companies exemplify these traits as leaders in their respective industries and we are proud that they call Arlington home,” Stiefvater said.
The winning companies, most of which ARLnow have previously featured, include a number of companies that orbit the Department of Defense and national politics, providing everything from cybersecurity to data analysis to consulting work.
But there are some newer companies that break that mold, founded after the defense department closed dozens of government offices after the 2005 Base Realignment and Closing Act.
- Under $5 million: Franklin IQ
- $5-$15 million: C3 Integrated Solutions
- $15-$25 million: Black Cape
- $25+ million: PGLS
Ballston-based consulting firm Franklin IQ (901 N. Glebe Road)– a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business founded by a former Marine — mostly works with defense industry and federal healthcare clients. During the pandemic, it leaned into its veteran roots and helped about 600 veteran health clinics move their in-person visits online, and provided expertise to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on PTSD treatment, sexual assault response and prevention and suicide prevention.
For the third consecutive year, Clarendon-based IT company C3 Integrated Solutions (3033 Wilson Blvd) landed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies, ranking 1,544th in the U.S, 63rd in Virginia and 88th among IT Management companies. It reports a 414% growth over three years, during which time it pivoted temporarily to helping defense contractors comply with new government-issued cybersecurity regulations.
Ballston-based, veteran-owned data intelligence company Black Cape (4075 Wilson Blvd) landed a spot this spring on a five-year, $241.6 million contract to improve how the Department of Defense uses its vast data resources for missions. The company emerged from “stealth mode” in 2019 and, based on its revenue growth since then, is the sixth fastest-growing company in the D.C. area, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Ballston-based, minority-owned PGLS (1010 N. Glebe Road) provides multilingual translation, interpretation and language training solutions in over 200 languages and dialects. Nine years after its founding in 2013, the company ranked No. 461 on the Inc. 5000 list, as well as No. 40 in the business products and services industry and No. 14 in Virginia.
Shift5 in Rosslyn (1100 Wilson Blvd) has rapidly amassed $70 million in funding over the last 12 months to hire staff, expand its headquarters and develop its products. The company appointed its first Chief Financial Officer, Robert Sison, in October, and in June, it was recognized for its high sales rate and commitment to the public sector. The company has been sounding the alarm on rising cybersecurity threats to the nation’s planes and trains.
Feeling the pressure to respond to its soaring office vacancy rate, Arlington County is looking to fill empty buildings quickly.
One option for adding tenants and knocking down the 20.8% vacancy rate would be to permit companies to set up small warehouses, or micro-fulfillment centers, inside of office buildings that are struggling to attract new tenants — especially as remote work appears here to stay.
The proposed solution is part of a new initiative to modernize and add flexibility to the county’s zoning approval process. In addition to micro-fulfillment centers, this plan suggests a few other non-traditional uses for office buildings, from breweries to urban farms. It also provides an expedited public process with shallower community engagement so that the Arlington County Board can sign off more quickly.
“The goal of this different approach for new or amended uses is to have them ready for board consideration more quickly than other typical zoning studies,” said Jill Hunger from the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD). “This is the first application of the county manager’s strategy to ensure commercial market resiliency.”
After a discussion that called out county staff for not engaging enough with the community, all but one member of the Planning Commission voted to send the amendment to the Arlington County Board for approval on Monday. Commissioner Stephen Hughes abstained.
The proposed zoning change limits each micro-fulfillment center to 10,000 square feet, reflecting industry best practices and staff discussions with center operators, Hunger said. If the center is in a ground-floor space and opens onto an active street, it must provide a walk-in customer sales area.
Staff recommend that no fewer than 10% of deliveries should be made by a delivery worker on foot or on a bicycle.
“It’s anticipated that quite truthfully after the initial startup, and if more than one micro-fulfillment center operates in Arlington, this modal split may actually increase,” Hunger said.
While Planning Commission members ultimately voted in favor of permitting micro-fulfillment centers, a number criticized the plan for not talking to the civic associations that could be impacted.
According to a draft county document, the county placed public notice ads with the Washington Times for the Planning Commission and County Board meetings, updated its webpages for zoning studies and its response to office vacancies, and briefed the Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission.
“We feel we have done the outreach that’s consistent with many zoning text amendments,” Hunger said.
But without asking residents for their input, Commissioner James Schroll said he has a hard time believing the County Board can approve the change without additional public hearings. The Board is expected to take up the matter at its Saturday, Oct. 15 meeting.
“How we do what we do matters,” he said. “I get that you want to move quickly and I support that and I also want staff to be engaging with broad stakeholders as you do that.”
He said he’ll be reticent to support future amendments to consider permitting breweries and urban farms in office spaces, for instance, if there isn’t more stakeholder outreach.
(Updated 11:20 a.m.) Arlington has the second highest work-from-home rates in the nation, U.S. Census Bureau data from 2021 show.
The county falls just behind Fremont, a city in California’s Silicon Valley that is home to numerous tech companies, while D.C. ranks third. And within the metro D.C. area, the remote work population in northern Arlington specifically is second in size only to the central and downtown parts of the District.
People who study these trends, like Economic Innovation Group economists Adam Ozimek and Eric Carlson, say Arlington’s high ranking does not surprise them. They analyzed data on remote work for ARLnow, comparing the 46 commuting zones that make up the D.C. area.
At 55%, “North Arlington has one of the highest work-from-home rates in the D.C. region,” said EIG Chief Economist Ozimek. “Even South Arlington does pretty well in terms of the region overall, 43% is high overall, even though the income divide you can see.”
Looking at five-year population estimates, they found that the D.C. area as a whole topped the charts with a 34% telework share overall, followed by San Francisco (33%) and Austin (32%). San Jose and Seattle came in fourth and fifth, and much larger cities, including Chicago and New York City, ranked 18th and 20th with teleworkers comprising around 23% of the workforce.
“The D.C. area is just about as work-from-home as we would expect based on underlying factors,” Ozimek said. “Higher-educated places have more work from home. More expensive places have higher rates of working from home. And occupation matters: you’ve got a lot of skilled workers in general. The more skill, the more likely it is to be remote.”
Arlington, he said, has some of the highest average home values and education levels in the region. In addition, nearly half of jobs in the D.C. area can be done remotely, compared to other parts of the country, like Las Vegas and Grand Rapids, Michigan, where 30% or fewer jobs can be done remotely, they found.
While the pandemic precipitated this pivot to remote work, working from home — at least a few days a week — appears to be settling in as a permanent fixture of how many Arlingtonians get their jobs done.
And that is impacting Arlington County’s record-high office vacancy rate, which reached 20.8% during the second quarter of 2022. The county generates 45% of its property tax revenue from taxes on commercial properties like office building, helping to fund Arlington schools and county services while taking some of the pressure off of homeowners.
The office vacancy rate is higher now — with masks no longer required and vaccines and boosters readily available — than it when the pandemic first took hold (16.6%) and at the beginning of 2021 (18.7%).
“The challenges are really deep,” County Manager Mark Schwartz told the County Board last week. “Long-term leases are becoming rarer. To ask people who used to come to the office five days a week to do so again… might not be met with universal acclaim from those who used to drive into the office five days a week.”
As commercial and office vacancy rates continue to soar, the county is looking to food delivery staging areas, urban farms, breweries, and small warehouses as potential solutions.
At last week’s Planning Committee meeting, county officials expanded upon a County Manager initiative first announced in April to modernize, simplify, and add flexibility to the county’s zoning approval process. The efforts are being called “commercial market resiliency.”
The last two plus years have seen a lot of change in terms of how commercial space is used, said Jill Hunger from the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD).
“We are experiencing rapid shifts, a lot of it was accelerated [due] to Covid,” Hunger said. “Where and how we work have changed as well as general consumer behavior and expectations.”
This has led the county to consider less traditional uses of spaces that could be approved quickly, like micro fulfillment centers (small-scale warehouses), maker spaces, data centers, animal boarding, urban agriculture, and breweries.
These types of uses would require, according to a presentation by CPHD, only “minor tweaks” to already-approved zoning uses and, in some cases, are already allowed in neighboring jurisdictions. Another advantage is that these types of uses could also be approved within six months, which is considered a quick timeframe.
By more quickly approving a larger variety of commercial uses, it could help bring down commercial and office vacancy rates that have hit nearly 21%.
“We are still facing tremendous headwinds, especially with commercial office vacancy,” said Marc McCauley, Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) director of real estate development. “[There’s] uncertainty of when people are returning to the office and how they are going to use the space differently.”
Nearly half of Arlington’s local property tax base comes from commercial properties, which helps to keep taxes on residential properties lower than would otherwise be needed to provide the current level of local government services.
AED told ARLnow earlier this week that the department is continuing to work on reducing commercial and office vacancies.
As was noted several times during the Planning Commission meeting, the proposed changes would be similar to those that were approved for Columbia Pike late last year.
In November, the County Board approved changes allowing for more retail variety on the ground floors of buildings along Columbia Pike. This might lead to businesses more often seen in industrial districts, like a brewery, distillery, or a shared commercial kitchen opening on the Pike.
“We started out hearing that Columbia Pike was unique but what we heard from a lot of [people], including this commission, ‘why isn’t this good for everywhere?'” said Marc McCauley of AED.
To this end, CPHD is looking to institute a pilot program that would allow micro-fulfillment centers, where all deliveries would be by bike or foot, to quickly move into these commercial spaces.
The hope is to go through the approval process in four months, starting with a request to advertise this month, so that this pilot would come before the Planning Commission and County Board for final approvals in October.
As the county, region, and nation continue to grapple with how the pandemic impacted office vacancies and changed the economy, officials are realizing the old ways of approving commercial uses may no longer work.
“What we are trying to achieve is… when we are building spaces and suggesting different uses that we are not precluding anything,” said Hunger. “We are trying to be more inclusive and not exclusive about what can and can not go in.”
The pandemic and work from home trends are causing pain for owners of office buildings in Arlington and across the region.
Arlington’s office vacancy rate reached 20.8% this month, according to data from CoStar, as relayed by Arlington Economic Development. That’s up from 16.6% at the beginning of 2020, as the pandemic first took hold, and 18.7% at the beginning of 2021.
Arlington two main office submarkets, meanwhile, are seeing even higher vacancy rates. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s office vacancy rate rose to 23.3% and that of National Landing (Crystal City and Pentagon City) rose to 24.4% as of the second quarter of 2022, according to new data from commercial real estate firm Colliers.
“The trend of rising vacancy and falling demand in the Northern Virginia market continued during the second quarter,” Colliers said in a report. “Vacancy rates reached 19.0 percent and over a million square feet of space has been returned so far in 2022.”
That’s despite some positive developments, like the renewal of Accenture’s 120,687 square foot lease at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, the company said. Likewise, recent news of Boeing and Raytheon moving their corporate headquarters to Arlington are likely to mostly be moral victories for the county, as neither company is believed to be leasing any significant amount of additional office space.
Colliers noted that the highest-end office space (“Class A”) had the highest total area of additional vacancy. It also noted that a significant amount of office space is currently under construction in Arlington — though much of that can be attributed to Amazon’s forthcoming HQ2 in Pentagon City.
Demand in Northern Virginia fell for the third consecutive quarter returning 522,850 square feet of space to the market. In the second quarter, Class A product was the largest contributor to the negative demand, with 385,327 square feet of negative net absorption. The combined Class B and C product also registered negative demand, returning 137,523 square feet to the market. Subsequently, overall absorption figures for Northern Virginia in the first half of the year reached negative one million square feet.[…] At the end of the quarter, just under four million square feet of construction was underway with half of that future inventory in Arlington County. This is down from the recent peak of over five million at the end of 2021.
On its face, high office vacancy rates might not seem like a problem for those living in Arlington, but in reality it could raise costs for residents. That’s because nearly half of Arlington’s local tax base comes from commercial property and more vacancy means less tax revenue for the county, which in turn puts pressure on residential property owners to make up the difference — or accept lower levels of local government services.
Arlington Economic Development, which helps to promote the county to potential office tenants, tells ARLnow that it is working to reverse the current trends.
“The commercial office market is an important component of the Arlington County tax base, which leads Arlington Economic Development to closely monitor vacancy trends and proactively direct resources to attracting and retaining businesses in Arlington,” the department said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way businesses operate, particularly those in an office environment, and the elevated office vacancy rate across Northern Virginia is an indicator of this change.”
More from AED:
AED is committed to further reducing the office vacancy rate through a multi-faceted approach, including the following three areas:
- Targeted business attraction and retention efforts within our key industries to bring new operations to Arlington and support existing operations expand within the County
- Cultivating and catalyzing the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to further produce homegrown startups that mature into larger companies using more space.
- Enhanced regulatory flexibility that will expand the number of allowable uses within commercial buildings and quickly adapt to economic and market shifts.
- AED is pursuing this area In collaboration with the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development and other County stakeholders.
AED is confident that communities like Arlington with a skilled workforce, flexible and proactive policies, and a high quality of life will be well-positioned to capture growth in the coming years.
Colliers, meanwhile, says it’s difficult to predict what will happen with office space down the road, though for many companies the days of bringing every employee into the office five days a week may be a relic of pre-pandemic times.
Arlington is becoming a bonafide destination for corporate headquarters.
Three of the top 100 largest U.S. companies now have a headquarters — in the case of Amazon, a second headquarters — in the nation’s smallest self-governing county.
Those are in addition to other companies that top Fortune lists which already all Arlington home: utility company AES (#333), conglomerate Graham Holdings (#804), apartment developer AvalonBay Communities (#960) and the U.S. operations of Nestle (global #79).
The Raytheon and Boeing moves come with an asterisk, however — they’re more of an address change and will mostly utilize office space the companies already have here. Few employees will be moving here for either HQ, besides the CEO. And the primary reason Arlington was chosen was proximity to a certain five-sided building here, as well as a white building and a domed building across the river.
Still, there is a prestige factor that comes with being the headquarters for a major international company, including lots of national headlines, plus ancillary economic benefits like more business travel and lodging, greater interest from other potential relocating companies, etc.
In statements, Arlington County officials are touting the news as a point of pride.
Statement from Katie Cristol, Arlington County Board Chair
“We welcome the decision of Raytheon Technologies, a leader in the aerospace and defense industry and long-standing member of our business community, to bring its global headquarters to Arlington,” said Katie Cristol, Arlington County Board Chair. “Today’s announcement demonstrates how Arlington’s proximity to the decision-makers of D.C. and its welcoming, business-friendly climate are key factors for top companies. We are honored to work alongside Raytheon and welcome its global headquarters into our community.”
Statement from Shannon Flanagan-Watson, Interim Director, Arlington Economic Development
“Raytheon’s announcement, as well as that of Boeing last month, show that more companies are choosing Arlington for their headquarters. Our skilled, highly-educated workforce, key investments in public infrastructure, and our exceptional tech ecosystem are factors companies desire when locating a company. We welcome Raytheon’s global headquarters and look forward to their continued presence in Arlington.”
This morning we’re wondering how locals are reacting to all of this. Are the new headquarters boosting your sense of civic pride? Or do you view the news as neutral or negative for Arlington?
Raytheon Technologies, which has an existing office at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is planning to move its global headquarters to the neighborhood, the company and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this morning. It is currently based outside of Boston, where the company was founded a century ago.
Raytheon, a major defense contractor and aerospace company, is slightly larger than Boeing in terms of revenue and global workforce — $64.4 billion and 174,000 employees, respectively, in 2021. It currently has 116,000 square feet of space in one of the “twin towers” buildings in Rosslyn, after renewing its lease there in November 2020.
Youngkin hailed the move as proof that “the Commonwealth is the best destination for the aerospace and defense community.”
Four of the top five U.S. aerospace and defense companies will now be based in Northern Virginia: Boeing and Raytheon in Arlington, plus Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics in Fairfax County. (The fifth, Lockheed Martin, is based in Bethesda but has offices in Arlington.)
— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) June 7, 2022
Arlington Democrats also touted the move this morning, saying that “the County attracts business by smart public investment and being welcoming to everyone.”
Raytheon will be the latest company to call Arlington home
The County attracts business by smart public investment and being welcoming to everyone
Progressive values lead to economic development and make Arlington a great place to be https://t.co/ANeICvjR0r
— Arlington Democrats (@arlingtondems) June 7, 2022
Raytheon, meanwhile, said its move “increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers.”
“Defense executives have long cited access to decision makers as a reason to be in the Washington region,” industry publication Defense One noted this morning.
A Raytheon spokesperson told the Boston Globe that that there would be “no reduction in the defense company’s Massachusetts workforce as a result of the move” and that “there would not be a net increase in employment in Arlington as a result.”
The spokesperson also noted that the “corporate address change” will take place between July and September and would only result in a “‘slight expansion’ of Raytheon’s existing leased space in Virginia,” per the Globe.
Other notable corporate headquarters in Arlington include the U.S. operations of Nestle, in Rosslyn; Amazon’s HQ2, under construction in Pentagon City; as well as AES Corporation and E-Trade, both in Ballston.
The full press release from Raytheon is below.
Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) announced today that it will establish its global headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The location increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers and serves to reinforce partnerships that will progress innovative technologies to advance the industry. Washington, D.C. serves as a convenient travel hub for the company’s global customers and employees.
The company will maintain its strong U.S. presence which includes 600 facilities across 44 states and territories. Each of the company’s four business units currently have operations in Virginia. The new global headquarters office will be in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood alongside the Raytheon Intelligence and Space business.
Raytheon Technologies has not accepted or sought any financial incentives from any state or municipality to support the establishment of the global headquarters office in Virginia.
About Raytheon Technologies
Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. With four industry-leading businesses ― Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense ― the company delivers solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics, and quantum physics. The company was formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses.
Bye, Bye Bank Building — “A new residential development is on the boards for Columbia Pike. Marcus Partners filed plans late last week with Arlington County for a new 250-unit residential development at the site of the Bank of America office building at 3401 Columbia Pike. The six-story building will have ground floor retail, a central courtyard and 287 parking spaces on 2.5 below grade levels.” [UrbanTurf]
It’s Official: No Caucus — From Blue Virginia: “The @arlingtondems announce that their School Board Endorsement Vote process is canceled, as there is only one candidate (Bethany Zecher Sutton) left after the other withdrew.” [Twitter]
Rents Still Rising — “The median Arlington apartment rent in April was up 16.8 percent from a year before, the third highest growth rate among the nation’s 100 large urban areas, according to new data. The median monthly rental for an apartment in the county last month was $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,420 for two bedrooms, according to data reported by Apartment List.” [Sun Gazette]
Truck Crash Caught on Camera — From Dave Statter: “Just happened. 3rd crash in as many days on I-395S at Exit 8C/Rt 1. It appears the red car didn’t stop & no other cars struck. @VSPPIO has all lanes open.” [Twitter]
Protest Outside DEA HQ in Pentagon City — “I’m outside DEA headquarters in Arlington, where protests have gathered to draw attention to terminally ill patients’ rights to try experimental drugs like psilocybin.” [Twitter, The Hill]
WaPo Reporter Rappels Down Hotel — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [Washington Post]
Boeing HQ May Draw More Companies — “Even without a sizable addition of jobs or expansion, Northern Virginia landing another major corporate headquarters has strategic ‘marketing value,’ Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said in an interview. The presence of a headquarters attracts the attention of other corporations, as well as site-selection consultants who advise companies where to locate new facilities. ‘Nothing draws a crowd like a lot of people,’ Clower said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro: Ridership Rebounding — “Metro ridership is outpacing projections through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022 by nearly 40 percent. Through March, ridership has exceeded the initial forecast by 28 million passenger trips as more people chose bus and rail for travel throughout the region. Metrobus leads the way, accounting for 60 percent of overall Metro ridership, compared to about 40 percent for rail.” [WMATA]
It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]
New Interim Economic Development Chief — “Today, I am pleased to appoint Shannon Flanagan-Watson as the Interim Director of Arlington Economic Development (AED), effective May 31. Shannon brings 28 years of combined experience working in and with local governments on a range of professional local government management and policy issues.” [Arlington County]
Shot Fired in Long Branch Creek — “1400 block of 28th Street S. At approximately 1:09 a.m. on May 5th, police were dispatched to multiple reports of shots heard in the area. Police canvassed the area and recovered evidence confirming a shot had been fired. The preliminary investigation indicates a verbal altercation between two subjects may have preceded the discharge of a firearm. No injuries were reported, and no property damage was located.” [APCD]
Netherlands Carillon Dedication — “Today, the National Park Service and Netherlands Embassy celebrated the 77th anniversary of Liberation Day and the end of a four-year restoration of the Netherlands Carillon. This celebration included remarks from Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands André Haspels and National Park Service Director Charles F. ‘Chuck’ Sams III.” [Press Release, NBC 4]
More Funding for Metro Entrance? — “Additional financial support for Arlington County’s proposed west entrance to the Ballston-MU Metro station looks to be on the horizon. A recommendation from staff at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission puts the request for an additional $4.5 million near the top of the list for regional projects that would be part of fiscal 2023-24 funding through the ‘I-66 Commuter Choice’ program.” [Sun Gazette]
Trying Out the Upton Hill Ropes Course — “Waiting in line to jump from the 50-foot apex of Climb UPton, Northern Virginia’s new ropes course, and trying desperately not to look down, I overhear three 10-year-old girls in front of me. ‘Are you scared?’ one asks… The $1.3 million ropes course opened last summer in Upton Hill Regional Park and is run by NOVA Parks. I recently attempted it on a sunny spring Saturday.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Reminder: Malibu Barbie Truck’s Visit — “On Saturday, May 7, the ‘Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Malibu Tour’ is planning on setting up shop at Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) in the courtyard near DSW shoe store. The truck will be selling ‘retro-inspired’ Barbie merchandise — like Barbie logo embroidered denim jackets and Malibu Barbie necklaces — from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [ARLnow]
It’s Friday — Rain throughout the day. High of 65 and low of 58. Sunrise at 6:06 am and sunset at 8:07 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Aerospace and defense giant Boeing is moving its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Arlington.
The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and since confirmed by the company, “would place the aerospace company’s senior executives closer to key government decision makers in the nation’s capital,” the paper reported.
“Boeing announced today that its Arlington, Virginia campus just outside Washington, D.C. will serve as the company’s global headquarters,” Boeing said in a press release. “The aerospace and defense firm’s employees in the region support various corporate functions and specialize in advanced airplane development and autonomous systems. In addition to designating Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.”
“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun, in a statement. “The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent.”
Boeing had nearly 500 employees at its downtown Chicago headquarters in 2020, Reuters reported last year, noting that amid the pandemic the building has not been well utilized.
Per the October article:
Other top executives, like newly minted CFO Brian West, are also based primarily on the U.S. East Coast and a hush has descended on the exclusive but functional top floor, although the pandemic has also been a major factor, the people said.
“It’s a ghost town,” one of the people added.
The headquarters — a 36-floor, $200 million riverfront skyscraper — sits at the crossroads of a cost-cutting campaign that has seen Boeing shed real estate, including its commercial airplane headquarters in Seattle.
Several people close to the company say cost cuts and a more hands-on corporate culture have raised questions about Boeing’s long-term future in the city, and in turn the broad direction Boeing intends to take as it tries to regain its stride.
Boeing opened its East Coast headquarters in the Crystal City area about eight years ago. The approximately 450,000 square foot office complex is two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 and adjacent to Long Bridge Park.
Boeing has its name on the county park’s fields and aquatics center after making a $10 million donation.
An Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman declined to comment on today’s news before the formal announcement, citing “competitive reasons and to protect confidential company information.”
Local broadcast outlets also reported on the move following WSJ’s scoop, citing “a Virginia state official.” The official noted that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), a personal friend of Boeing’s CEO, both helped to woo the company, according to NBC 4.
Following the announcement, Warner praised Boeing’s move.
“For well over a year, I’ve been making my case to Boeing senior leadership that Virginia would be a great place for its headquarters, and late last year, I was happy to learn that my efforts were successful,” he said in a statement. “As the former Governor of Virginia, I was proud to secure Virginia’s standing as the best state for business and the best-managed state, among other honors, and I’ve been proud to work in my role as Senator to help continue to cultivate the kind of pro-business environment that world-class companies like Boeing need to grow and thrive.”
In a statement, Youngkin also praised the company and its CEO, while touting Virginia’s talented workforce.
Boeing is one of America’s great pioneering businesses and we are thrilled the company has decided to headquarter in Virginia. The decision to call Virginia home shows that the Commonwealth is the premier location for aerospace companies. I look forward to working with Boeing to attract even more talent to Virginia especially given its reputation for engineering excellence. From day one, our goal has been to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I want to thank Boeing, its CEO Dave Calhoun, and its leadership for choosing Virginia.
Boeing did not reveal where in Northern Virginia it intends to open the new research and development hub.