Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Talento Selected as School Board Chair — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2019-20 school year and elected Tannia Talento as Chair and Monique O’Grady as Vice Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2020.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Which Amazon Units Are Coming to HQ2 — “We’re still a pretty long way from knowing what the estimated 25,000 workers at Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters will do, but a top company executive has named three units that will be represented in Arlington: Alexa, Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s consumer division.” [Washington Business Journal]

Private Sector Job Growth in Arlington — Arlington County’s private employment grew by nearly 20,000 jobs, or about 17%, between 2010 and 2018, according to the D.C. Policy Center. [Twitter]

Arlington Winners at the RAMMYs — Ambar in Clarendon captured the Service Program of the Year award at the 2019 RAMMYs over the weekend. The distinction of Chef of the Year at the D.C. area restaurant industry award show, meanwhile, went to Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, which is opening a location in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

APS Testing New Visitor System — “Summertime will bring a security pilot program to a number of Arlington’s public schools, with a full roll-out of the initiative slated throughout the system in the fall. The new visitor-management system to be tested at five sites during the summer will require visitors, volunteers and contractors to provide specific photo identification, and their identities will then be checked against state and federal sex-offender registries.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Holds ‘Camp Heat’ — “Camp Heat, put on by the Arlington County Fire Department, concluded Friday night. During this week-long immersion into firefighting, campers learned everything from running hoses to breaking down doors to working on water rescue techniques. All the campers are young women, 15 to 18 years old.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Overturned Vehicle on GW Parkway — “The northbound George Washington Parkway was closed [past Key Bridge] during Tuesday morning’s rush hour after a vehicle overturned, authorities said… The southbound side of the parkway was also affected.” [Washington Post]

Transgender Policy Discussion at School Board Meeting — “Students, parents and advocates packed the [Arlington school] board meeting to loudly back [a transgender non-discrimination] plan, waving miniature LGBT and transgender pride flags to signal agreement with the nearly three dozen speakers who proclaimed support… Supporters on Tuesday vastly outnumbered those who turned out to protest the plans.” [Washington Post]

Good Samaritan Murder Trial — “The Good Samaritan who intervened to try to stop a sexual assault in Arlington last fall was beaten so badly it was impossible to tell what killed him, a medical examiner testified Monday.” [Washington Post]

Feds Giving Grant to DCA — “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International both will see millions in funding from the FAA for improvements. DCA is slated to get $4,921,500 in funding.” [WUSA 9, Press Release]

ACFD Chief Battalion Honored — “Chief Wesley was recognized at the event for being the #first #AfricanAmericanWoman Battalion Chief not only in @ArlingtonVA but also the entire Northern Virginia region.” [Twitter]

Amazon HQ2 Jobs Update — There are currently 63 positions listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page, many of them technical. Recently listed job titles include “Region Build Technical Program Manager,” “Full Stack Software Development Engineer” and “Systems Development Manager, Cloud Computing Operations.” [Amazon]

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Morning Notes

Goldstein Fends Off Challenger — “Incumbent School Board Chair Reid Goldstein emerged as the victor Saturday night in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s [School Board endorsement] caucus… Goldstein received 1,231 votes out of 1,999 ballots counted, or 61.6%… Challenger David Priddy received 763 votes.” [Arlington Democrats]

Car Runs Off Glebe Road Into Ditch — “At 1:54pm Sunday, units were called for a car off the road in 4500 blk of N Glebe Rd. Crews were able to walk 1 patient out with minor injuries. Patient was transported to local hospital while Hazmat team worked to contain leaking fluids. Please watch your speed on the wet roads.” [Twitter]

Del. Hope Not a PAC Man — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has joined a group of Democratic state Senators in announcing “their intention to introduce legislation in the 2020 General Assembly legislative session to limit excessive campaign contributions from influencing Virginia elections.” The proposed bill is in response to a PAC contributing nearly $1 million to the commonwealth’s attorney primaries in Arlington and Fairfax. [Blue Virginia]

New Additions to Amazon HQ2 Job Page — There are now 47 open jobs listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page. Among the positions Amazon is hiring for in Arlington are hardware, system and software development engineers; recruiters; and numerous Alexa-related technical positions. [Amazon]

Middle School Project Running Behind — “It might be a little cramped for the first few months as students settle in at Arlington’s Dorothy Hamm Middle School… County school officials have known for months that the expansion of the school won’t be ready for occupancy when classes begin in September… On its website, the school system now pegs completion of the expansion at next March.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Places Third in Horse Race — “Mike Wardian, 45, of Arlington, Va. did not succeed at outrunning all the horses at the 40th anniversary of Whole Earth Man v. Horse Marathon in Wales yesterday, but he did pretty well nonetheless, placing third among the humans and finishing in 2:34:03.” [Trail Running]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Kaine Event at Federico’sUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — “On Monday, May 13, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will hold a roundtable in Arlington with fair housing advocates to discuss the work ahead to ensure equal access to housing for all Americans and address discrimination that LGBTQ Americans continue to face as they search for homes.” The event is now being held at 9 a.m. at Federico’s Ristorante Italiano (519 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City, per an updated media advisory.

Amazon Hiring for Alexa Job in Arlington — Among other open job positions for Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, the company is now hiring a “Principal Product Manager” for its Alexa Experience team. [Amazon]

Puppy Recovering from Pike Crash — “Earlier this week Yoda ran into oncoming traffic after escaping his leash. I ran after him in attempt to save him, which resulted in both of us getting hit by a car. I am okay but Yoda was not so lucky. He has two major fractures in his back leg which lead him into surgery. He is resting but having a difficult time.” [GoFundMe]

Satisfaction with Metro Rebounds — “Metro’s reputation in the region has improved dramatically in the past two years and has almost reached the positive levels it enjoyed before a fatal smoke incident in 2015, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll… A 68 percent majority of Washington-area residents rate Metrorail positively, up from 42 percent in 2017. In 2013, 71 percent had positive ratings of the subway system.” [Washington Post]

Post Endorses Tafti — The Washington Post has endorsed challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti over incumbent Theo Stamos in the Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney primary. [Washington Post]

SoberRide Record for Cinco de Mayo — “Nearly 800 (792) persons in the Washington-metropolitan area used the free safe ride service, SoberRide, this Cinco de Mayo as opposed to possibly driving home drunk.” [WRAP]

Flickr pool photos by John Sonderman and GM and MB

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Amazon is starting the hiring process for its HQ2 in Arlington and expects the first employees to move into temporary office space in June.

That’s according to a corporate blog post today:

Last November, we announced that Arlington, Virginia would be the home of our second headquarters. We’ve enjoyed a warm welcome from the community and the strong support from state and local government has allowed us to make significant progress towards establishing our presence here. We are ahead of schedule and on pace to create 400 new jobs this year and a total of 25,000 over the next decade plus.

Today marks an important step in the process as we lease office space and begin hiring. We will welcome our new employees to our temporary office space on Crystal Drive in June while we work toward opening our first building this fall.

The post was penned by Ardine Williams, the Vice President for Workforce Development, HQ2 at Amazon. Williams moved to the D.C. area from Seattle, starting her new HQ2 role in January, according to a LinkedIn profile.

So far, five jobs and three job titles are listed on Amazon’s “Arlington HQ” jobs page:

  • Global Category Manager
  • Sr. Financial Analyst – Procurement
  • HR Specialist

“This role will sit in our new headquarters in Northern Virginia, where Amazon will invest $2.5 billion dollars, occupy 4 million square feet of energy efficient office space,” says one of the job descriptions. “Our employees and the neighboring community will also benefit from the associated investments from the Commonwealth including infrastructure updates, public transportation improvements, and new access to Reagan National Airport.”

More from the blog post:

We posted our first few job listings this morning. While the number is small, these employees will help build the foundation of our workforce and workplace. The human resources leaders will help us recruit diverse and customer-obsessed teams and the finance, sourcing and facilities professionals will support the development of our new sites with the goal of building a unique, sustainable, and urban campus for our employees and the local community.

Amazon recently leased additional office space in Crystal City, while other temporary leased space is under construction. Ultimately, the company plans to move to an office campus in Pentagon City that it will develop and own.

In the blog post, Williams says Amazon plans to invest in training programs and education to “increase the talent available in this region to make Virginia an even more attractive destination for innovators large and small.”

We have a unique opportunity to build programs that both support the skills development necessary to create a pipeline for jobs at Amazon, and also increase the talent pool in the DMV.

We recently announced that we will support funding for intro and AP computer science classes in 27 schools across Virginia as part of our Amazon Future Engineer program – a childhood-to-career program to inspire, educate and propel children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities to pursue careers in computer science. Similarly, we are also funding literacy programs, robotics clubs, and STEM labs in more than 50 schools across the Commonwealth.

We have called Virginia home since 2010 and have already invested more than $34 billion in the Commonwealth, including infrastructure and compensation to our employees, and will be investing billions more in the coming years. We hope our continued investments will create more opportunity for the region’s skilled workforce and underrepresented communities.

“Keep checking back for updates,” Williams writes in conclusion. “We plan to post more roles soon.”

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) An Arlington-based tech company is relocating its headquarters in Crystal City and pledging to add 1,000 new jobs in Arlington.

Incentive Technology Group, LLC (iTG) is investing $5.1 million in a 50,000 square-foot headquarters at the Presidential Tower office building at 2511 Jefferson Davis Highway, where it expects to hire for 128 positions this year.

The new headquarters, and the 1,000 jobs iTG pledged to add over the next three years, was announced by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam earlier today.

Virginia and Georgia both vied for iTG’s new headquarters, but Amazon appears to have helped tip the scales in Arlington’s favor.

“Arlington County’s recent influx of technical talent, as well as its ability to attract leading-edge companies to the area, such as Amazon, are the key reasons for iTG’s decision to stay in the region,” said iTG’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fehretdinov.

iTG consults with Amazon Web Services, per its website. Its customers include the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communications Commission, National Cancer Institute, Bank of America, the General Services Administration, Vanguard, and United Healthcare.

Governor Northam described the company as a “homegrown small business” and said iTG’s choice to stay Arlington is “another example of how the region’s world-renowned tech talent and higher education system attracts and retains leading IT businesses of all sizes.

In the press release, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball, state Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Rip Sullivan lauded the move as evidence of the county’s growing economic power.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said he was “excited” that iTG planned to stay in the county.

“iTG has seen great success here, and in its new space is well-positioned to continue its growth in the field of information technology,” Dorsey said in a statement. “We look forward to continue working with iTG as a valued partner in our business community.”

iTG was founded in 2008 and is currently located at 2121 Crystal Drive. It currently has “in excess of 200 Arlington employees,” Fehretdinov told ARLnow.

File photo

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Morning Notes

GW Parkway ClosureUpdated at 9:15 a.m. — “All lanes of the GW Parkway are now closed during Friday morning’s rush hour due to a large sinkhole that was discovered overnight.” [Tysons Reporter]

HQ2 Impact to Be Bigger Than Expected? — JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller both think many are underestimating HQ2’s impact on job creation in the region. [Washington Business JournalWashington Business Journal]

Arlington Gets High Marks for Dog Parks — Arlington is No. 10 on the Trust for Public Land’s ranking of cities with the most dog parks per capita. Arlington has eight dog parks, or 3.5 for every 100,000 residents. D.C. ranked No. 22 on the list. [Trust for Public Land]

Wilson Blvd to Close Again in Ballston — “That stretch of Wilson Boulevard at @BallstonQuarter that’s now closed eastbound on school nights 8pm-6am for 8 weeks? It’ll also be closed both ways this weekend, Friday 8pm to Sunday 6pm. Lots of pedestrian bridge to do.” [Twitter]

Road Closures in N. Arlington — “The Nottingham/Discovery Elementary Schools 5K race will take place on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will close several roads from approximately 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Basketball Fundraiser Tonight — “New Directions High School students will play Arlington County’s heroes — including some of the police department, fire department, probation and prosecutor’s office” tonight at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School to raise money for New Directions. [Twitter]

No Hyperloop for Va. for Now — “Virginia transit officials flew to California to check out Elon Musk’s Boring Co. tunnel. They say they’re gonna stick with traditional roads and railways for now. ‘It’s a car in a very small tunnel.'” [Virginia Mercury, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

More on Seven Corners Death Investigation — “Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau are investigating after a body was found… in the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church. Officers found a 49-year-old Hispanic man lying unresponsive in an alley near the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive.” [Fairfax County Police]

D.C. Area Adds Fewer Jobs Than Expected — “The Washington region added 35,300 jobs in 2018 based on data released yesterday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 16,800 fewer jobs than indicated by the preliminary releases.” [George Mason University]

Home Sales Continue Trend — “Year-over-year home sales across the Washington region have now tumbled each of the first two months of 2019, but the median sales price rose for the 29th consecutive month, according to new data, while inventory levels tightened slightly as the winter market segued into spring.” [InsideNova]

Dudley’s Opening at Last — Nearly four years after it was first announced that a new sports bar called Dudley’s Sport and Ale was coming to the former Bungalow space in Shirlington, the long-delayed sports bar is finally planning to open to the public on Friday. [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Experts See More Amazon Jobs Heading Here — “Given Amazon’s Northern Virginia incentives allowing for as many as 38,000 jobs over 15 years, CoStar Managing Consultant and Senior Real Estate Economist Paul Leonard expects it will absorb much of the planned New York payroll, despite Amazon’s company line that ‘nothing has changed’ for National Landing.” [Bisnow]

More on I-395 Incident — Arlington County Police say it was a juvenile suspect, driving a stolen car without a driver’s license, who caused a big crash on I-395 before leading police on a foot chase during Tuesday’s evening rush hour. [Arlington County]

Inside Look at Memorial Bridge Work — Workers are laboring to restore the Arlington Memorial Bridge to its former glory, one piece of 90-year-old granite at a time. [NBC Washington]

Copa Kitchen & Bar Opening Today — The latest restaurant to open at Ballston Quarter is Copa Kitchen & Bar, which is expected to serve customers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. today, according to a social media post. [Instagram]

Where’s the Weather? — Our faithful weather bar, which has graced the top of our site for many years, is out of commission, for now. IBM, in its infinite wisdom, killed the source of our data. Why, Watson, why? We’re working to restore the current conditions display with a new data source, but it’s probably going to take a few months. [Weather Underground]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Nearly three quarters of all IT workers across the D.C. region would consider leaving their current job to work for Amazon, a new survey shows, revealing just how impactful the company’s arrival in Arlington could be on the local labor market.

A poll released today (Wednesday) by Eagle Hill Consulting, and conducted by the survey firm Ipsos, found that 51 percent of employees across all occupations would jump ship for Jeff Bezos’ company. The group found that younger people and tech workers were especially enthusiastic about the company, with 60 percent of millennials expressing interest in Amazon and 71 percent of IT workers showing a willingness to leave.

The research underscores the fears harbored among many smaller, tech-focused startups in the D.C. area that Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City (set to begin in earnest this year) will result in a brain drain of sorts. Eagle Hill also expects that federal workers could find themselves lured into the private sector by Amazon’s hefty paychecks, particularly as the company ramps up hiring for the 25,000 jobs it expects to eventually bring to its new headquarters.

“Area employers should be worried, especially those that need to retain their tech talent,” Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill’s president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “Private sector and government employers will have to do all they can now to hang on to their employees before Amazon arrives – especially in such a tight labor market.”

As Jezior points out, unemployment rates are low around the country at the moment, especially in Arlington, which regularly posts the lowest jobless rate in the whole state. To Eagle Hill researchers, that means employers will need to “dig deep to understand their employees’ satisfaction and deliver what their workforce needs are positioned to hold onto their star employees when Amazon moves in,” Jezior said.

The poll results show that 71 percent of all workers see a move to Amazon as a chance to earn more pay, while 45 percent say they’d make the move to do “more interesting work.” An identical number said they’d move to Amazon in order to work “for a progressive company” — Bezos’ firm has been a leader in bumping up wages for its warehouse workers, but has also taken plenty of criticism for its labor practices and support for the Trump administration’s immigration tactics.

Among IT workers, those numbers are even stronger: 71 percent see a chance for higher salary, 55 percent are enthusiastic about more interesting work, and 51 percent want to work for a progressive company.

Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, acknowledged that Amazon will put pressure on the labor market, as will the tech companies who flock to the area to take advantage of Amazon’s arrival. But he was also quick to point out that companies concerned about losing employees will have to time to prepare and do the sort of introspection that Jezior recommends.

“Only a few hundred jobs are coming here in the first year, so if that’s the concern, they can get a jump on them,” Hoskins said. “The big numbers really don’t start until 2020, 2021.”

Much like other surveys of attitudes about the company, Eagle Hill found that opinions on Amazon were largely positive: 83 percent of workers surveyed believe the company will have a positive impact on the local economy. Additionally, 88 percent believe Amazon will improve prospects for job seekers and 73 percent think the company will have a positive impact on “overall compensation” in the region.

But Amazon’s impact on Northern Virginia’s already crowded roads emerged as a clear concern among those survey — 77 percent believe Amazon will have a negative impact on traffic, a common view among Arlington residents but one generally not shared by local officials.

Eagle Hill says Ipsos conducted the survey by collecting responses online from about 1,000 “working age” people across the D.C. region.

Photo via Amazon

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After helping convince Amazon to bring 25,000 jobs to Arlington, Victor Hoskins could probably be forgiven for looking for his next challenge.

The county’s top economic development official has already bounced around the Washington region a bit over the course of his career, serving in similar roles in D.C., Prince George’s County and even Maryland’s state government. But few of the deals Hoskins struck in those jobs could hope to rival the agreement he worked to forge with Amazon, in terms of both size and controversy.

Accordingly, it might seem perfectly reasonable if Hoskins wanted to walk away from the county after pulling off such a mammoth transaction — or perhaps parlay his Amazon-sized success into a bigger payday elsewhere.

But even with Jeff Bezos and company set to head to Arlington, Hoskins says he isn’t going anywhere. Though the tech giant plans to invest billions in the county, he believes there are still plenty of challenges left in Arlington that he hopes to tackle.

“Frankly, I want to see this through,” Hoskins told ARLnow. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity… because we still have an 18 percent office vacancy rate. When we get down to a 10 or 12 percent vacancy rate, then I’ll consider leaving.”

Like many other county officials in recent weeks, Hoskins emphasizes that the 25,000 workers Amazon plans to move to Crystal City and Pentagon City will only help replace the similar number of employees who’ve left the area in recent years, as federal agencies and the military have headed elsewhere.

That means he sees plenty of room for Arlington to keep adding jobs, and he fully expects that the county’s economic development arm will have a key role in guiding that process.

“We’re expecting 25,000 jobs of Amazon, but at least another 25,000 over the same 10-, 12-year time period from all the supportive services or ancillary services to the company,” Hoskins said. “That means a few years from now, we could be down to a 12 percent office vacancy rate if everything goes right. But that takes hard work.”

Hoskins says it certainly helps to have a “seal of approval from the largest tech company in the world” in bringing in other high-tech businesses too. Though he’s waiting until the county and state formally sign off on the Amazon deal — a process that could wrap up as soon as February — to start courting anyone too hard, Hoskins would also concede that luring other Silicon Valley firms will be a key part of his strategy going forward.

“We’re going to be looking for companies that start deciding, like Amazon, that they need an eastern seaboard location,” Hoskins said. “And many of those are west of the Mississippi.”

He envisions branding Arlington as the next Silicon Valley, perhaps “the Silicon Valley on the Potomac,” a shift in thinking that he believes the county kicked off years ago that contributed to its successful courtship of Amazon. Part of that work will be marketing Arlington’s ever-growing tech workforce, another key piece of the pitch county and state officials made to Amazon.

For instance, Hoskins expects that the state’s investments in new, tech-focused higher education efforts in the area (including a new Virginia Tech “Innovation Campus” in Alexandria and a beefed up computer science program at George Mason’s Virginia Square campus) will send tens of thousands of graduates with high-tech degrees into the workforce in the coming years. And he hopes that other local universities will follow that lead, even if they weren’t included in the Amazon deal.

“UVA’s [Darden School of Business] opened up an MBA campus right in Rosslyn, and I know they’re probably sitting there thinking, ‘Could we raise some money in the tech arena and build on some state funds here?'” Hoskins said. “And I think we have a whole host of other universities that will come on board.”

Of course, the quality of Arlington’s public schools were another factor that lured Amazon to the county, and Hoskins expects school officials to play a role in readying students to potentially enroll in those programs.

“I know our schools are already having conversations with George Mason University and others to see what kind of cross-training they can set up to take advantage of these resources,” Hoskins said.

Yet Hoskins says that his intense focus on the future doesn’t take away the pride he feels in having helped pull off such a massive deal in Arlington. Though community concerns abound about the tech giant’s potential impact on everything from the housing market to traffic, Hoskins believes the positives for the county were enough to leave him practically giddy when he first heard the news that Amazon tabbed Arlington.

“I was exhilarated, are you kidding me?” Hoskins said. “It was 14 months of pins and needles… I’ve got a 91-year-old mother, and she told me she was delighted to hear about this. And it took her a long time to even understand what I do for a living, so that means the world.”

Photo via @ArlChamberVA

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