Strong university ecosystems feed Amazon HQ2s' fire
Amazon says it will hire 50,000 employees for its two new headquarters. A variety of nearby colleges will help facilitate the process.
After the big announcement Tuesday, Amazon HQ2-mania will move from a year-long speculation game to a decade-long case study of what happens when the biggest retailer in the country decides to move in to two of the most prominent backyards in America.
The bulk of Amazon's early hiring binge in Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City, New York — recipients of the coveted HQ2 bid — will be in construction. After facilities are ready to go, the company will bring in swaths of workers, many of which will fall into technology domains.
The initial phase of Amazon's additional headquarters will generate 25,000 jobs in each city, but potential expansion could bring as many as 15,000 additional jobs into Long Island City and 12,850 jobs into Arlington.
By any measure that's a lot of hiring, but the company does have standing agreements with local governments on workforce development, a host of universities to pull talent from and new higher education investment programs in the areas.
To steward the agreement between Amazon and Virginia, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership will create a Steering Committee to keep track of commitments, according to the memorandum of understanding made by the Commonwealth, the VEDP and Amazon.
The committee will consist of Amazon, JBG Smith — the biggest property owner in the National Landing area — and local and state officials, as well as representatives from several Virginia universities with campuses and learning centers scattered around the Northern Virginia region, including:
- Northern Virginia Community College
- George Mason University
- Virginia Tech
The same day as the headquarters announcement, George Mason University unveiled an Institute for Digital InnovAtion and School of Computing (IDIA) to support the retail giant's move to the region. IDIA will tie together the university's business, computing, engineering, policy, law and data and information science programs in a building on its Arlington campus, and the School of Computing will serve as the state's first program for computing professionals.
Virginia Tech also announced a $1 billion Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia, less than two miles from the coming H2Q headquarters, which will include a 1-million-square-foot campus for high-tech education and research. The campus was credited as a standout feature for the Northern Virginia higher education package marketed to Amazon during the HQ2 decision-making process.
Amazon can also pull from the University of Virginia, located two hours away from Arlington, for business, data science and computing graduates, as well as Georgetown University, George Washington University, American University, Howard University and Catholic University, all in nearby Washington, D.C.
Across the Maryland border are Johns Hopkins University; the University of Maryland; Montgomery College, a community college; Towson University, Coppin and Morgan State universities, among others.
At the start of 2020, the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCED), Empire State Development (ESD) and Amazon will invest $5 million a piece to fund workforce development initiatives in the area. Amazon will then work over the next decade with NYCED and ESD on development initiatives for students and workers, according to the New York memo of understanding, including measures such as:
- New York City-based tech training programs for demographics including low socioeconomic status residents;
- Recruiting and interviewing participants in third party tech training programs, the Tech Talent Pipeline programs and the Industry Partnership program, among others.
- Creating space on site for development programs, including for recent graduates and local college students;
- Work-based learning and internships for public high school students.
- Building on existing programs in city and state colleges.
- Participating in semi-annual job fairs and workshops for Queensbridge House and NYCHA tenants from 2020-2023.
In addition to a web of City University of New York campuses, including the New York City College of Technology, there are many universities and campuses for Amazon to pull from in the area, including Cornell Tech, the New York Institute of Technology and the Global Institute of Technology.
Major universities in the area include Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University and Cooper Union.
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